Pritzker Prize winner Rem Koolhaas’s legendary architecture firm, OMA, is where big-name architects like Zaha Hadid, Bjarke Ingels, and Fernando Romero all got their start. On the way to making an equally big name for himself is Shohei Shigematsu, one of the nine current partners. The Japanese-born visionary joined the studio in 1998 and became head of its New York branch in 2006. “One thing that Rem taught me is to always be keen on the changes that are happening in the world,” says Shigematsu. “OMA is often understood as very rational, pragmatic, and formal—but we also believe in creating something beautiful.”
Shigematsu’s profile has risen fast, thanks to his role as lead architect on a host of dazzling projects, including Miami Beach’s Pantheon-inspired Faena Forum and a glass pavilion for the Musée National des Beaux-Arts in Quebec City. Opening soon is OMA’s first ground-up building in New York, an 18-story residential tower that sits in between the Gramercy and NoMad neighborhoods. “We thought the site had a split identity,” says Shigematsu. “That’s why we created this three-dimensional corner, to show the instability of belonging to two different zones.”
Next, he will unveil plans for a steeply pitched annex for the New Museum that will double the downtown institution’s square footage. (“We didn’t want to create too much of a similarity or tension with the design,” he says.) Also in the pipeline is a total revamp of Sotheby’s Manhattan headquarters, plus his soon-to-be-announced first furniture collection as well as projects in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Miami, and Buffalo, New York.
Dabbling outside the architectural world, Shigematsu recently drew acclaim for designing the Denver Art Museum’s Dior exhibition, which will travel to Dallas this summer. “I always like dealing with artists and fashion designers—it gives us an opportunity to work at a different speed.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2019 Spring Issue under the headline Creative Minds. Subscribe to the magazine.