The trailblazing architect Rem Koolhaas mulls the empty spaces in a suddenly frozen world

REM KOOLHAAS, THE PRITZKER PRIZE–WINNING Dutch architect, author and academic, has long had a beef with airports. It’s not the same beef that everyone else has with airports—the Cinnabon smell, the brusqueness of security, the $7 snack. Koolhaas’ beef with airports is that they’ve lost their sense of purpose.

“Airports used to be highly rationalized spaces that simply served to take you efficiently from one place to the plane,” Koolhaas says on a landline from his office in Rotterdam. The process, in his mind, used to be very logical. “Arrivals, luggage, customs, blah blah blah.”

But airports now are made up of what he has named “You are basically almost forced to enter the bowels of a mostly financial configuration in order to

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