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建筑之旅起源何方?——Shohei Shigematsu访谈第1张图片

"My Journey is Starting Now": Shohei Shigematsu of OMA New York


创意和独立思考来源何方?这个答案简单直接,那便是来源于好奇的个体和实验型环境。雷姆·库哈斯(Rem Koolhaas)创建了大都会建筑事务所(OMA),该事务所在全球有7个工作室、300多名员工,同时Rem还在哈佛大学任教、在全球讲学。Rem Koolhaas现在有8位合伙人。自从2006年起,八位合伙人之一Shohei Shigematsu就负责领导OMA纽约工作室。该工作室最初只有几个人,后来已经发展成为拥有75位建筑师的工作室,他们主要负责北美的项目。


Where does originality and independent thinking come from? The answer is prosaically straight forward – from an inquiring individual, and an experimental environment wouldn’t hurt to stimulate it. Rem Koolhaas is credited with fostering such an environment, both through building his practice, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), a 300-architect network of seven global offices, and teaching at Harvard’s GSD, as well as lecturing all over the world. Koolhaas now has eight partners. One of the eight, since 2008, is Shohei Shigematsu who heads OMA New York since 2006. The studio originally numbered just a handful of people and over the years has grown into a large practice of 75 architects with a focus on projects in North America.
Born in 1973, in Fukuoka, Japan, Shigematsu likes to point out that his birth coincided with the moment when Japan’s economy started to decline. Still, the post-war generation of his parents believed that the economy was going to grow and keep modernizing. It did, and the process was very integral with new construction, so architecture was of interest from an early age. When Shigematsu was ten, his father was invited to teach science at an American university. That presented an opportunity for the whole family to spend one year in Boston, which also contributed to Shigematsu’s decision to study architecture. We met for the following conversation at OMA New York to discuss the architect’s role in the company, his search for personal identity, and, of course, architecture’s top priority – its concern with beauty.

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康奈尔大学米尔斯坦大厅|Cornell Milstein Hall / OMA New York. Image courtesy OMA; photography by Iwan Baan

Vladimir Belogolovsky(下文称为VB):你成为OMA建筑事务所的合伙人已经十年之久,而你入行也已经二十年,一开始你就职于鹿特丹工作室。那么你什么原因吸引了你和Rem Koolhaas共事呢?

Shohei Shigematsu(下文称为SS):在Berlage学院毕业之后,我就申请了OMA的工作。我当时认为,如果想要成为一名好建筑师,那么你就必须要有自我的想法。同时,我也受到许多建筑大师的影响,其中就有Rem。这些建筑师们会通过不同的阶段,先是细致地观察,再是严瑾的分析,那么这就会导致程序驱动的设计方式。遵循这种方式需要进行团队的合作,这就必须将自我感受降低,你不需要成为天才就能够获得很好的结果。但是就Rem而言,他确实是一位天才。



Vladimir Belogolovsky: It has been ten years since you became the partner at OMA and twenty years since you started working at the company, initially at the Rotterdam office. What was it that attracted you to work with Rem Koolhaas in the first place?
Shohei Shigematsu: I applied to OMA right after studying at the Berlage Institute. I think the reason was my then believe that if you wanted to become a good architect you had to have a strong personal agenda or a manifesto. In that vein, I was compelled by architects such as Robert Venturi and Rem. These architects would develop their work in a series of stages – from keen observations to rigorous analysis, which often resulted in decisive, programmatically driven designs. Following such an approach involves solid teamwork, forgoing the need for such a strong personal agenda – you don’t have to be a genius to achieve a great result. Although, in the case of Rem, he probably is a genius.

VB: You believe that, right?
SS: Yes, absolutely. So, the approach I am describing was extremely liberating and refreshing because I focus on observation and I keep digging to all the givens of each problem.  

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Faena Forum文化中心|Faena Forum / OMA New York. Image courtesy OMA; photography by Iwan Baan





VB: You are saying that a personal agenda can be taken out of the equation? Wouldn’t you agree that Rem’s observations are very personal and the kind of questions he is asking are beyond the givens of each problem, beyond of what a client may require, and beyond of what the site or program may suggest?
SS: Sure, but his agenda or interests are very consistent. They are focused on questioning modernization, the multiplicity of functions, urbanization, and there is always a skepticism of the architectural profession [in his questioning]. So, in a way, Rem has liberated me personally by teaching me to observe the world more carefully and reacting specifically to particular circumstances rather than concentrating on forming my own agenda and developing a manifesto. So, I am not saying that he doesn’t have an agenda, but what I learned most is that I always have the starting point in the circumstance of the project itself, and that is liberating.

VB: Could you touch on your professional arrangement with Rem and his involvement with the New York office production? In other words, how independent are you and how significant is his impact on the work currently being developed here?
SS: It has been evolving. In the first five or so years, he felt that he needed to be a part of the design process and to interact with clients. But OMA has been growing steadily, opening new locations in Europe, America, Middle East, and Asia. So, it has become increasingly difficult for him to be active in so many places at once. America, in particular, at least due to the 2008 financial crisis, for a while, was not a priority and that gave me an opportunity to lead this office. It wasn’t easy to go to meetings where clients would expect to meet Rem and instead, they would see a young Asian guy. [Laughs.]

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Faena Forum文化中心|Faena Forum / OMA New York. Image courtesy OMA; photography by Iwan Baan





VB: So how did you position yourself to earn trust on the part of the clients?
SS: After being here for a couple of years I started readjusting the way I presented myself. First, the message was – we are a young firm. We are a part of a giant global firm with its experience, resources, and talents. But we are also a local firm where I am the design leader. Of course, in the beginning, this did not work at all. But eventually, people started realizing that as long as we share Rem’s and OMA’s way of thinking we can deliver a project at the highest expectations. So now we have about 75 people and in terms of creative staff, we are about the same as OMA’s main Rotterdam office.

VB: And today, when clients come here do they still expect Rem to be a part of their project?
SS: Not necessarily. I think more clients, as well as the public, are beginning to recognize OMA’s partners as individualistic, independent leaders.

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121E22nd Street / OMA New York. Image courtesy of OMA New York


SS:是的,但是也有一些例外。Rem参与了“121E22nd Street ”的设计,这也是我们在纽约的一座建筑,同时也是新博物馆的扩建。对这样的项目来说,他参与得最多的是在规划阶段,他一般不参与其他项目。



VB: So, clients come here because of you?
SS: Yes, but there are some exceptions. Rem was involved in the design of 121 East 22nd Street, our first ground-up building in New York, as well as the New Museum extension. For such projects, he is typically most involved during the planning phase. He is not involved at all in other projects run out of the New York office.  

VB: And he doesn’t mind that, right?
SS: Not only that but other partners, including those in the Rotterdam office are now becoming more independent in developing their own projects. That is now becoming the identity of the OMA office – every partner is cultivating his or her own identity under the overall OMA way of thinking. Rem continues to have his own projects as well.

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威尔希尔犹太教堂扩建项目-新奥黛丽厄玛馆|Audrey Irmas Pavilion / OMA New York. Image courtesy of OMA New York





VB: I want to understand better the way you work on projects here. You said, “We change concept if we can’t come to a good form.” Could you elaborate on your position?
SS: I think this notion that OMA method is driven by program and is therefore very boxy and dry is a myth because what we care about most is beauty. So, in those cases when programmatic or contextual assessments don’t lead not just to a surprising but beautiful outcome we will reassess that approach until we conceive what, in our opinion, is considered beautiful. Of course, whether something is beautiful is open for debate. So, we are often perceived as rational thinkers, and it is true that so many of our forms come from such things as program diagrams, but our design process is never direct, linear, or literal. We go back and forth between rational thinking and post-rationalization, and form-making. This process is very dynamic, but beauty and originality play a very critical role. I am always looking for something that was not thought of or seen before. I don’t like to repeat what was done before. I push for something surprising, different, and new.

VB: You said, “I have never put my identity forward when I’m designing.” Were you talking about your Japanese identity or personal identity, as a creative author?
SS: I would love to find my way too, but my starting point was different from those architects who opened their own practices early on and had to put their identities forward and gradually grew into bigger firms. Here, I worked within an established system, and then took over the New York office. I had to figure out how to make the New York office grow as a distinct offshoot of an established brand. I succeeded in developing the OMA way of thinking, as far as building projects on what was given, while remaining consistent with how the office worked before me. Now, ironically, more and more, I am asked for my personal preferences. What kind of architect am I? So, I am thinking about my own identity at this later stage. I want to be clear about what I like personally. Yet, I would not want to be fixated on any particular style. I am now at a point when I am looking back, analyzing the last ten years here at OMA New York and I am also looking forward, trying to envision what will be the direction for our office in the next ten years. How it will shape my identity? I don’t know if I want to go into multiple directions, but even if I wanted to choose one, I don’t think I have it yet. My Journey is starting now.

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Manus X Machina / OMA New York. Image courtesy OMA; photography by Albert Vecerka


SS:这些想法来源于多功能建筑的分析,以及Rem的曼哈顿下城体育俱乐部(Downtown Athletic Club)的文章,在这个项目中,我们结合了一系列并不相连的功能楼层,其中包括酒店、体育设施、医院设施、室内高尔夫球场、土耳其浴室、游泳池等等,这些功能相互独立,同时也区分于建筑的外部形态。那么这个想法就是为每个功能都赋予理想形式,然后将它们放在一起。另外,西雅图公共图书馆(The Seattle Public Library)也是个很好的案例,我尤其喜欢这个项目中对于未来发展的处理方式,它非常成功。这个项目的形式是既固定又不断变化的体量,形式美观,结构良好。但是这座建筑的美学并非随意形成,而是对复杂功能的呼应,我认为这是世界上最优秀的公共建筑。





VB: You said that you are always looking for possibilities to reinvent a familiar program because architecture can disguise behind different forms and materials, but – if the program is the same, then your experience will also be the same. Is that the key focus in your work – program?
SS: These ideas came out of my analysis of mixed-use projects, as well as Rem’s writing about the Downtown Athletic Club in Manhattan that combined a sequence of disconnected floor programs such as hotel, athletic facilities, hospital clinic, interior golf course, Turkish bath, and swimming pool. They all worked independently both from each other and the building’s exterior envelope. What came out of this analysis was to conceive an ideal form for each program and then start stacking them up. The Seattle Public Library is a good example. I particularly like how the project addressed its future; it is run very successfully. It is a great assembly of volumes that are both fixed and continuously altered. The form is very beautiful, and it works with its structure quite well. The building’s beauty is not arbitrary; it is responsive to its complex program. I think it is one of the best public buildings in the world.

VB: We know that OMA has shifted its focus on various subjects over the years, such as iconic and generic forms in architecture, while Rem also developed interests in preservation and countryside, among other topics. What is the current focus of the New York office?
SS: I would name landscape and integrating architecture into landscape and nature.

VB: So, you are talking about this shift of going from buildings as standalone objects to buildings as environments. Introducing social engagement to architecture, and what can be a better building than a park? I like that. My only objection is that just about everyone is preoccupied with this idea in very similar ways. That is everyone’s focus today. As a critic, I am concerned with the lack of ideas right now. There is no diversity anymore.  
SS: The media has pushed us into this situation.

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Faena Forum文化中心|Faena Forum / OMA New York. Image courtesy OMA; photography by Iwan Baan





VB: And the architects have pushed the media because there came a point when architecture became so saturated with ideas that the critics no longer could be engaged in a meaningful critique of the form-making. When architects started defending their ideas with their “why not?” attitude that eventually put an end to any meaningful discussion with the critics. That’s why so many of them are simply going over their checklist: green – check mark, social engagement – check mark, a bench – check mark. And if it is just an expressive form, they stumble and tend to evaluate it negatively, and even go as far as calling it unethical, especially if it takes great resources to achieve it, like the CCTV Headquarters.
SS: Well, maybe our focus is banal. [Laughs.] But I am describing to you our thinking and where we stand today. And we are focused on as many diverse projects as possible in terms of size and programs. That’s what generates energy here; we try to avoid having a single focus. Many of our projects now integrate parks but I am also skeptical about overloading parks with programs. I think people enjoy parks that have no program at all. Do we need to program everything? That is alarming. And the number of buildings that are integrated into parks is a representation of that tendency. Everything becomes very active to compete for attention.

VB: Rem said that architecture is a form of scriptwriting. What is it for you?
SS: I agree, and I enjoy architecture as a narrative, particularly about the design process. Establishing narratives within a project at all phases gives a different understanding of design and the opportunity to communicate our core philosophy.

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康奈尔大学米尔斯坦大厅|Cornell Milstein Hall / OMA New York. Image courtesy OMA; photography by Iwan Baan


VLADIMIR BELOGOLOVSKY是纽约非营利Curatorial项目的创始者,他在纽约库伯联盟学院学习建筑,并且著有9本著作,其中包括、《New York: Architectural Guide》(DOM,2019)、《Conversations with Architects in the Age of Celebrity》(DOM,2015)、《Harry Seidler: LIFEWORK 》(Rizzoli,2014)、《Soviet Modernism: 1955-1985》(TATLIN,2010)。另外还有许多大型展览,即2012年的世界巡回展览“Harry Seidle:绘画建筑”,2017至2018年的“Emilio Ambasz”、2016年起的“Sergei Tchoban”,还有2008年威尼斯建筑双年展俄罗斯展馆的“象棋游戏”。 Belogolovsky还是柏林建筑杂志“SPEECH”的美国记者,在2018年,他是北京清华大学的受邀学者,并且曾经在超过30个国家的高校和博物馆进行演讲。

Belogolovsky的专栏“City of Ideas”为ArchDaily的读者介绍了他也世界知名建筑师的对话,自2002年起,他采访过超过300位建筑师,而这些密切会谈也是2016年6月悉尼大学展览的主题内容,“City of Ideas”将会在世界各地举办巡回展览,从而不断地探索设计与理念。

VLADIMIR BELOGOLOVSKY is the founder of the New York-based non-profit Curatorial Project. Trained as an architect at Cooper Union in New York, he has written nine books, including New York: Architectural Guide (DOM, 2019), Conversations with Architects in the Age of Celebrity (DOM, 2015), Harry Seidler: LIFEWORK (Rizzoli, 2014), and Soviet Modernism: 1955-1985 (TATLIN, 2010). Among his numerous exhibitions: world tours of the work of Harry Seidler (since 2012), Emilio Ambasz (2017-18), Sergei Tchoban (since 2016), Colombia: Transformed (American Tour, 2013-15), and Chess Game for Russian Pavilion at the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale (2008). Belogolovsky is the American correspondent for Berlin-based architectural journal SPEECH. In 2018, he was a visiting scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He has lectured at universities and museums in more than 30 countries.
Belogolovsky’s column, City of Ideas, introduces ArchDaily’s readers to his latest conversations with the most innovative international architects. Since 2002, he interviewed over 300 architects. These intimate conversations are featured in the curator’s ongoing site-specific installations made up of voice recordings and thought-provoking quotes.




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