Koolhaas: Prada Tower explores effect of space on art

MILAN — Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas says his nine-story tower for the Prada Foundation in Milan is meant to reveal the interaction between art and architecture.

The white concrete Prada Tower, which is being inaugurated during Milan's Design Week, completes the foundation's contemporary art space. It combines restored structures with new buildings, helping to give new life to a former industrial neighborhood on the southern edge of the city.

The 60-meter (197-foot) building overlooks the Milan skyline in the distance through large plate glass windows, with the Duomo cathedral, the mushroom-shaped Valasca Tower and the new clusters of modern skyscrapers rising up in the distance.

The ceiling of each successive floor is higher than the last, going from "compressed and intimate spaces," to more expansive areas, Koolhaas said, with the intention of creating a place to examine "the effect of space on art."

A Damien Hirst installation featuring an umbrella and floating rubber ducks on the 8th floor can be viewed against the backdrop of the city. The industrial-sized elevator with pink marble floor reveals the rest of the foundation's structures arranged inside the wedge-shaped space from a glass panel.

"That in a certain way was the whole point of the foundation: To create an experimental situation where it is not necessarily that architecture serves art, but that there is a real interaction between the two," Koolhaas said.

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