Rem Koolhaas' "Cronocaos"

Tonight Rem Koolhaas will kick off the New Museum’s Festival of Ideas with a keynote that will introduce the major themes behind the festival as well as those at work in his exhibition “Cronocaos,” which debuted last year at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Koolhass and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) have been obsessed with the past ever since he co-founded it in 1975. “Cronocaos” is as much a retrospective of some of the firm’s most important work as it is a frank look at the ongoing struggle of preservation in architecture and urbanism in general. “Through our respect for the past,” Koolhass says, “heritage is becoming more and more the dominant metaphor for our lives todays – a situation called Cronocaos. We are trying to find what the future of our memory will look like.”

If you’re confused by what all that means, fret not. Basically the exhibition takes a deeper look at how we build – our practices, principles, processes and materials – and what kind of impact it has on our immediate and larger environment. It examines the consequences of the cycle of demolition and construction as well as our duty to preserving historical structures. It speaks to the “global rage to eliminate the evidence of the postwar period of architecture as a social project” with examples from the 20th and 21st-century.

It’s a huge topic, as is the exhibition itself. Posted here are pictures from the Venice Biennale (courtesy of designboom). See it for yourself at the New Museum. “Cronocaos” runs from May 7 – June 5, 2011.

Berlin’s Palast Deer Republic, which was demolished in 2006 despite having played a historic and integral part in Germany’s reunification process.