New massive building looks like one of the Death Star's building blocks

Rem Koolhaas' new building in Rotterdam is in reality three towers joined by common spaces into a single massive unit that contains offices, apartments, and a hotel. More than a normal skyscraper it feels like a chunk of the Death Star teleported to the Netherlands.

Europe's Biggest Building Opens 16 Years After It Was Designed

De Rotterdam, a massive tower designed by Rotterdam darling Rem Koolhaas, has opened. It is the city's largest building—a little bit of Manhattan, in Rotterdam. It's also, in an odd way, a tribute to the original World Trade Center.

The analogy you're going to hear again and again about this building is Lego: It's a 450-foot-tall skyscraper that looks like stacked blocks, each cantilevered just slightly off the one below it. Inside, there are offices, apartments, and a hotel—making up a mixed-use tower that would be more at home near OMA's Asia offices.

But De Rotterdam isn't an ode to Lego or to Asian urbanism. It's an ode to Manhattan—a city Koolhaas has been possessed by since he was an architecture student. In fact, according to The Guardian's Oliver Wainright, who got a tour from the man himself, the building will anchor a $450 million plan to turn the Rotterdam neighborhood into a "Manhattan on the Maas," despite the fact that the city's existing office towers are already largely empty.

As Wainright points out, this tower is Koolhaas' swan song to New York—and more specifically, to the original World Trade Center. Take a look at the cover of the 1997 book that launches him to fame—Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan—and you'll see the long, thin frets of the WTC.


On De Rotterdam, you'll find the same long frets, spaced at similar intervals. Except here, the mass of the WTC has been sliced into fun-sized blocks and rearranged, slightly off-kilter, into a patched-together memory of the older building. At night, the building's long glass panes shimmer.

Whatever the cost, however many years it took to build, and despite the dubious demand for more office space in the city, it's a beautiful building. It's odd to think that, in a way, the most fitting architectural tribute to the WTC isn't even in New York. [Bustler]


Images by Ossip van Duivenbode.