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Architects
REX
© Alan Richardson
Joshua Prince-Ramus

Joshua Prince-Ramus is Principal of REX. In addition to the Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center in Istanbul, Turkey, REX recently completed the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas, Texas. Current work includes Museum Plaza, a 62-story mixed-use skyscraper housing a contemporary art center in Louisville, Kentucky; the new Central Library and Music Conservatory for the city of Kortrijk, Belgium; and a 2,643,000 sf luxury residential development in Songdo Landmark City, South Korea. Notably, within the past year REX received second prize in both the international competition for the new Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, and the Finnish Innovation Fund’s Low2No sustainable development competition in Helsinki, Finland.

Prince-Ramus was the founding partner of OMA New York—the American affiliate of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in the Netherlands—and served as its Principal until he renamed the firm REX in 2006. While REX was still known as OMA New York, Prince-Ramus was Partner in Charge of the Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas and the Seattle Central Library, hailed as Time magazine’s 2004 Building of the Year and by Herbert Muschamp in The New York Times as “the most exciting new building it has been my honor to review in more than 30 years of writing about architecture.” In 2005, the Seattle Central Library was awarded the top honors bestowed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the American Library Association (ALA).

Prince-Ramus was recently described as the “savior of American architecture” by Esquire magazine. Additionally, he was identified as one of “The 20 Essential Young Architects” by ICON magazine, as one of the world’s most influential young architects by Wallpaper* and as one of the twenty most influential players in design by Fast Company. Prince-Ramus is a member of the TED Brain Trust—along with thinkers such as Bill Gates, Craig Venter, Dean Kamen, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin— and was a speaker at the TED2006 and TEDxSMU conferences. Videos of Prince-Ramus’ TEDTalks, in which he describes the designs of the Seattle Central Library, the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, and Museum Plaza, can be found at www.ted.com.

Prince-Ramus received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with distinction from Yale University in 1991 and a Master of Architecture from Harvard University in 1996, where he was both an SOM fellow and the first Araldo Cossutta Fellow. He was the Eero Saarinen Visiting Professor at the Yale School of Architecture in Fall, 2007; a visiting professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in Spring, 2009; and a visiting professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation in Fall, 2009. Prince-Ramus is an NCARB-certified architect, and holds licenses in Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and the Netherlands.

Profile

We challenge and advance typologies.
REX feels it’s time for Architecture to do things again, not just represent things.

We design collaborations rather than dictate solutions.
The media sells simple, catchy ideas; it reduces teams to individuals and their collaborative work to genius sketches. The proliferation of this false notion of "starchitecture" diminishes the real teamwork that drives celebrated architecture. REX believes architects should guide collaboration rather than impose solutions. We replace the traditional notion of authorship: "I created this object," with a new one: "We nurtured this process.”

We embrace responsibility in order to implement vision.
The implementation of good ideas demands as much, if not more, creativity than their conceptualization. Increasingly reluctant to assume liability, architects have retreated from the accountability (and productivity) of Master Builders to the safety (and impotence) of stylists. To execute vision and retain the insight that facilitates architectural invention, REX re-engages responsibility. Processes, including contractual relationships, project schedules, and procurement strategies, are the things with which we design.

We don't rush to architectural conclusions.
The largest obstacle facing clients and architects is their failure to speak a common language. By taking adequate time to think with our clients before commencing the traditional design process, it is our proven experience that we can provide solutions of greater clarity and quality. With our clients, we identify the core questions they face, and establish shared positions from which we collectively evaluate the architectural proposals that follow.

We side with neither form nor function.
REX believes that the struggle between form and function is superficial and unproductive. By emphasising performance instead—a hybrid that does not discriminate between program, organization, and form—we free architecture from the tired debate over whether it is an art or a tool. Art performs; tools perform. The measure of high performance is relative to each client’s aspirations and each project’s constraints.

We reach for the unexpected by exposing root problems.
We don’t innovate for innovation’s sake. Nor do we accept predigested solutions. We return to root problems and doggedly explore them with a critical naiveté. Unprejudiced by convention, we expose solutions that transcend those we could have initially or individually imagined. Sometimes we discover uncharted territory; sometimes we rediscover forgotten territory that has renewed usefulness; sometimes we reaffirm conventions with assured conviction.

We view constraints as opportunities.
Engaged intelligently, project challenges such as site conditions, budgets, schedules, codes, and politics are opportunities that can catalyze the most innovative solutions. Architectural concepts that capitalize on our clients’ constraints will surpass any vision that resists intractable realities. We produce specific designs that are highly effective, not universals diluted in application.

We advance new strategies for flexibility.
Despite an increased need to accommodate change, contemporary design still relies on an antiquated version of flexibility: one size fits all. The promise of a blank slate upon which any activity can occur has produced sterile, unresponsive architecture. REX advocates delimiting activities and addressing the possible evolutions of each on its own terms. With this strategy, one activity can evolve without sacrificing another, and collisions between activities unleash surprising potentials.

We love the banal.
REX dares to be dumb.