Koolhaas’ name was proposed by the exhibition’s director, Kazuyo Sejima, one half of Japanese architecture group SANAA. The citation for the award noted that Koolhaas "creates buildings that bring people together and in this way forms ambitious goals for architecture." His influence, it continued, has spread beyond his native profession, "letting people from very diverse fields feel a great freedom from his work."
Koolhaas’s Rotterdam-based firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, has completed a number of high profile commissions over the past decade, including the Seattle Public Library and a handful of Prada stores. Construction is currently underway on his China Central TV Headquarters, which resembles a heavily cantilevered Möbius strip. OMA was also shortlisted for Eli Broad's planned museum in downtown Los Angeles, though the billionaire art collector is said to favor Diller Scofidio + Renfro for the project.
The Golden Lion is just the latest in a long series of awards to grace the architect’s trophy mantle. He won the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s most prestigious award, 2000, and earned the Royal Institute of British Architects Royal Gold Medal in 2004, an award that only rarely goes to a non-Briton. He is also a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor.