Among the books written by him, the 1978 book Delirious New York is definitely the key to understanding his works. Here in this paper, while unfolding the book, I will not limit my scope to conveying his ideas and my reading of them and also try to demonstrate why Delirious Newark is important to ERM Koalas and his practice. As Jonathan Carry puts it, Delirious New York is frequently read as a manifesto outlining how architecture could become immanent to a mutating field of modernization rather than function as static or enduring monuments exterior to it. Then we have to ask what was written in this book and how it was written. Delirious New York, more precisely Delirious New York, A Retroactive Manifesto Manhattan. By simply repeating the title, we can find some information about what is inside the book. Apparently, it is a book on New York, it is about the city’s past and process of formation toward the present condition. It is a manifesto, a retroactive manifesto for Manhattan Manhattans). But why a young architect at the beginning of his career chose to write a city’s history?
In an interview for the magazine ANY, Koalas explained why he wrote Delirious New York, “My first reason for writing in architecture was technical and strategic in that I ensued that I wanted to be a particular kind of architect, and I felt that at the time there was no place for that kind of architect. I want to construct – as a writer – a terrain where I could eventually work as an architect. “2 Although the words above didn’t appear in some kind of formal academic setting, but it is still pretty clearly-stated why he began his architectural career with writing.
As a Journalist and screenplay writer, the best way for Koalas to demonstrate his idea of architecture is writing, for sure, but not in a way that typical architects adopt. Sass was the period hat modern architecture totally expired after having been flogged to death remorselessly for more t Han ten years. As Charles Senses famously put it,” Modern Architecture died in SST Louis, Missouri on July. 15 1972 at 3:32 p. M. (or thereabouts) when the infamous Pipit-logo scheme or rather several of its slabs were given the final coup De grace by dynamite. 3 It was the same year that ERM Koalas began his study at Cornell and began to put together notes and documents for a book on New York , Delirious New York. Along with the death of Modern Architecture was the debate of “White and Gray’, but neither side have the place for “the particular kind of architect” that Koalas wants to be, because both sides chose to be blind to the recent and ongoing urban development. As Jacques Lucian argues, ” ERM Koalas forbade himself to close his eyes, as Robert Venture had several years earlier when he ‘discovered’ Lass Vegas… E forbade himself all hysteria of vision exclusive to historic centers; he stigmatize the ‘eye that Do not see” the metropolitan dimension of contemporary urban phenomena. “4 Moreover, the terrain he want to work in as an architect is not the virtual metropolitan environment that refuses much interpretation, the terrain needs to be intentionally constructed to exist. And not by accident, he formed his (or their) office and named it Office for Metropolitan Architecture (MOM) during the formation of the book.
As Hubert Dampish said, “Written as it was by a young architect Just beginning his Career, Delirious New York presents all the aspects of a bloodcurdling, of a “novel of Apprenticeship” or of “formation”. The “facts” and about metropolitan environment he found and the polemics he developed in this book was the treasure he kept referring during his whole life of architectural practice (until now). “Delirious New York is not an exercise in and for itself, for the erudition; it is a manifesto addressed to us and which effectively gives the basis for a conception and a larger intelligence to the work of those who follow it. 6 In 1982, the right moment came for to translate his idea from Delirious New York into a project. In his proposal for Para De La Violent, an urban park for the 21st century, the parallel bands accommodating main programs, which allows for most possibility of intervention and programmatic mutation are projected onto the whole site. It is a statement about the way programs will appear, disappear, mutate and function in the urban context.
The bands inevitably remind us of section of the Downtown Athletic Club, a building described as the perfect apotheosis of the skyscraper in Delirious New York, with its superimposed floors, all capable of supporting different programmatic events yet all contributing to a whole that is more than the accumulation of parts. The horizontal park is seen as a demoralized building, an experiment to promote the culture of congestion. In another interview, Koalas said, “The great benefit of writing book before practicing as an architect was that it helped me to get work.
But it was bad because it meant my subsequent work had to meet an usually heavy burden of proof. “7 It is rather ironic that in the case of Para De La violent he did a good Job overcoming the burden but didn’t get him the work. In summary, as Koalas literally wrote in Delirious New York, “the retroactive formation of Manhattans program is a polemical operation. “8 Koalas is not an historian as an archaeologist, he intended to draft the retroactive manifesto of Manhattan and Manhattans as a “ghostwriter” o construct the terrain he can work in as an Architect, to promote “the second coming of Manhattans” (actually his own doctrine).
Let’s go back to the book itself. According to ERM Koalas, the book can be divided into five “blocks” as followed. “1 . Coney Island: The Technology of the Fantastic 2. The Double Life of Utopia: The Skyscraper 3. How Perfect Perfection Can Be: The Creation of Rockefeller Center 4. Europeans: Bluer! Dali and El Couriers Conquer New York 5. Appendix: A Fictional Conclusion” 9 It become self-evident that this is not a typical book about a city’s history because it is ostensibly continuous.
But in fact the first four blocks chronicle the permutations of the Manhattans as an “implied doctrine”, showing the progression (and the subsequent decline) of Manhattans determination to remove its territory as far from the natural as humanly possible. 8 Because the subsequent decline of Manhattans, koalas has to offer his solution to arouse the revival of Manhattans. Then what is Manhattan and Manhattans? Manhattan is the oldest and most dense populated of all five boroughs of New York City. It is considered the archetype of the Metropolitan condition, to the point that the two are fete interchangeable.
Manhattan, the apotheosis of the ideal of the concept of congestion, is the mythical lab for the inventing and testing metropolitan lifestyle where its architecture promotes, exploits and celebrates unconsciously a state of congestion at all possible levels. What is implied here by the term “lab” is interesting, within the laboratory, there must be some kind of formula, which is not yet found in Manhattans case, that directs the invention and testing. It was ERM Koalas, who was the first person to openly talk about formula, what he coined as Manhattans.
With the help of Manhattans, the implied doctrine become implicit and available as the paradigm of the further exploitation of the density. To those (Modernists) who chose to close their eyes to the metropolitan condition, the state of congestion is a word they never want, because congestion equals all the bad stuff that can happen too city. But deeply, those architects refused to apprehend this unusual condition because that lack the desire and intellectual means to understand what is called metropolis, let alone control.
And this is what ERM Koalas strategically chose to face, to interpretive, and to elaborate-the culture of congestion. The revolutionary lifestyle of the new metropolis was firstly tested on the miniature Manhattan- Coney Island – Coney Island: The Technology of Fantastic is the title of the first block which is the same destination of the ” futuristic fragments, mechanical flotsam and technological litter” 10 All these remnants of Exhibitions and World’s Fairs are used to build up the marvelous attractions that are then transplanted to Manhattan.
So the island became the laboratory of “the technology of the fantastic”- the devices that are capable of creating theoretical effects and stimulating unman emotions. As he explained, it is technology for the support and production of fantasy’, “technology as an instrument and extension of the human imagination( not body )”, applied for the construction of the “Irresistible Synthetic”. 11 Koala’s embrace with technology is different from the Corrosion-purist, functionalist idea of technology. Influenced by the sass’s avian-grade experiments with technology, he treats technology as a way to get away from the orthodox modern movement.
Here, in this case, his interpretation of the fantastic technology of Coney Island is a fundamental step towards the evolution of the domain of the surrealist metropolitan phenomena. The technology that interests Koalas is not to support the physical structure of buildings but incubate the birth of the skyscraper and the metropolitan life. In his 1995 book S, M, L, XSL, he admitted that “the presence of technique in Delirious New York was selective: the book identified the elevator, steel, conditioning as the technology of fantastic”. 2 As is widely agreed that the birth and development of the skyscraper is the central Part of Delirious New York , then it is pretty safe to say the chapter of The Double Life of Utopia: The Skyscraper is the essence of the book which need to be carefully examined. The chapter firstly went back into the period that the Manhattan skyscraper was born and came up with three distinct urbanites breakthrough converged into one single mechanism: 1 . The reproduction of the World 2. The annexation of the tower 3. The block alone. 3 The reproduction of the world was the very beginning of the whole mechanism and can not exist without the invention of elevator and the steel frame. As Koalas argued, it also establishes a direct relationship between repetition and architectural quality: the greater numbers of lord stacked around the shaft, the more spontaneously they congeal into a single form. 14 This logic is also perfectly coherent with the grid system of Manhattan, the more diversity and mutation within the grid, the better the whole system works.