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S M L XL 2nd Edition

38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1885254863
ISBN-10: 1885254865
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Koolhaas, Dutch architect, author (Delirious New York) and cult figure, wants architecture to be "a chaotic adventure," and this massive tome certainly is. Created with Toronto-based designer Mau, it's a huge collage splicing freewheeling essays, diary excerpts, photographs, architectural plans, sketches, cartoons and surreal montages of images. There's also a running glossary of Zen-like definitions, plus fables and parables intended to shake modern architects out of conventional thinking and to dispel urban despair. In one essay, Koolhaas admires Japan's metabolist movement, which fuses organic, scientific, mechanistic and romantic vocabularies. That approach seems compatible with his own innovative, eclectic vision as head of the Dutch firm Office of Metropolitan Architecture (O.M.A.), whose houses, villas, office towers, libraries, colleges, cultural complexes and other projects are showcased here. While some readers may be mystified by a nonlinear hodgepodge, architects, planners and designers will find this frequently outrageous assemblage a provocative repository of ideas. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Rem Koolhaas is founder of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (O.M.A.); the firm's most important projects include the Lille Grand Palais in Lille; the Kunsthal in Rotterdam; Netherlands Dance Theatre in The Hague; Nexus Housing in Fukuoka; the Dutch House in Holland; and Villa dall'Ava in Paris, all of which are included in S,M,L,XL. Koolhaas is author of the seminal Delirious New York and professor in practice of architecture and urban design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Bruce Mau founded the critically acclaimed firm Bruce Mau Design in 1985. He is the author of Life Style and Massive Change.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1376 pages
  • Publisher: Monacelli Press; 2nd edition (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1885254865
  • ISBN-13: 978-1885254863
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 2.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a dense manifesto of ideas. It might be termed a printed hypertext, with a continuous glossary of terms being defined by Koolhaas this could serve as an alternative dictionary. The book is too broad for simply architecture, urban planning theory &c. which it professes to having as its infrastructure. It deals with all design issues, from the content of OMAs projects, to the beautifully printed and assembled object that is the book itself. Attempt to read as a linear narrative at your own risk.
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118 of 152 people found the following review helpful By tierny on November 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There's a terrific line in Breakfast at Tiffany's. George Peppard proudly hands neighbor Audrey Hepburn a copy of his just-published book. She has no idea what to do with it, so she puts it on a shelf next to a vase, backs away and says "Doesn't that look nice?"
This book is a lot like that. A self-conciously designed object for the homes of style consumers who already have the right clothes and the B&B Italia furniture. A prop for the still-life they want to inhabit. If they ever got around to "reading" it, they'd discover to their great relief... it's NOT a book to be read in any strict classical sense.

It also reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon where one associate asks another, "Read the first few pages of any good books lately?" The age of the short attention span is not going away any time soon. This hefty grey slab is easily recast as the shiny new headstone for verbalized intelligence.

As Kracauer holds it, there's nothing wrong with framing a culture via fragments, but I have plenty of qualms about advancing one's own ideas that way. And I'm suspect of ideas that trowel on style in the abundance seen here. If I could believe Bruce Mau's intentions were more than just trying to look new, (This 'look' now permeates architecture publications) I'd have more respect for this, but it was obviously calculated as a totem of style and style-suffusion.

For better or for worse, the book got noticed, the industry was distracted by the pretty surfaces and the ascent of Koolhaas is a done deal.
If you want to actually READ a book full of Koolhaas' thoughts, skip this and get a copy of Delirious New York.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 1998
Format: Hardcover
S, M, L, XL, love it or hate it, is seminal; Rem Koolhaas is one of the most important cultural figures on the planet at this time. S, M, L, XL serves as memoir, manifesto, documentation, diagnosis, prognosis, prophecy, plan, agenda, & propoganda -- local and/or global historicocriticophilosophical montage, collage, and barrage. The book is beautiful. Bruce Mau has indeed "given form" to the silver juggernaut. The cover, the illustrations, typographies, photos, and text come together in the manner of a Tristam Shandy or Finnegan's Wake. S, M, L, XL as literature is a commentary on the condition we call "modernity". Koolhaas seeks an understanding of both his profession and the chaotic dynamics of the world his profession leaves structures in. Koolhaas is at home in the chaos, and like Pynchon in fiction, or Antonioni in film, is remarkably detached and involved in the process at the same time(maybe this is false, but Koolhaas as a writer and architect is an auteur possessed by genius, and S, M, L, XL is both comforting and uncanny at the same time). S,M,L,XL is proof that Koolhaas is aware of the increasingly global nature of the architect's profession. I am fascinated by the concept and practice of traveling, and activity Koolhaas knows all too well as a traveler in the discourse and practice of "modernity". Essays within S,M,L,XL such as "Islam After Einstein" and "Singapore Songlines:Thirty Years of Tabula Rasa" show his knowledge of the increasingly important relation between the East and West, and the implications involved. Perhaps the most brilliant essay/manifesto in the book is one of the most recently written, "The Generic City" which questions notions of progress in history and the archeology(ies) of modernism.Read more ›
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By on March 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I'm about half way through it and already it has profoundly changed my view of the world around me. This book transcends architecture and touches on spirituality, politics, society and culture. A stirring manifesto for the convergence of several aspects of the global condition. Reading it has sparked a wave of creativity in my own line of work (financial analyst/software developer). Why is architecture important? Because it deals with the design of systems. Physical systems, biological, computer and natural systems. Architecture is life. I beleive Mr. Koolhaas understands this by evidence of his writings. Bravo!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Anderson on July 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Well, to some this is the "bible" of architecture (i find that simply hilarious - must be a second-year student) and to others a complete piece of rubbish. I saw one review call it Corbusian, but did not mean that as a complement. While Corbu did have a flair for the grandiose, he's was much more intelligent and thoughtful than Rem.

I have to say I find this book rather dull. The opening piece from AA was like a more boring version of anything done by Superstudio - though it was nicely spruced up with poor grammar and a youthful exuberance for syllables.

Mau's offices' contribution is also somewhat typical to me. The silver cover is cliche. Any zine made by some small-time punk has more interesting imagery and provocative material. I give this a C, because at least it gets the Corbu-hater upset. That's always a nice thing.
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