Daniel Libeskind, (born May 12, 1946 in Łódź, Poland) is an American architect, artist, and set designer of Polish-Jewish descent. He founded Studio Daniel Libeskind in 1989 with his wife, Nina, and is its principal design architect. His buildings include the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany, the extension to the Denver Art Museum in the United States, the Imperial War Museum North in Salford Quays, England.
Though he had been an architectural theorist and professor for many years, Libeskind completed his first building at the age of 52, with the opening of the Felix Nussbaum Haus in 1998. Prior to this, critics had dismissed his designs as "unbuildable or unduly assertive." The first design competition that Libeskind won was in 1987 for housing in West Berlin, but soon thereafter the Berlin Wall fell and the project was canceled. Libeskind won the first four projects he entered into competition for.
The Jewish Museum Berlin, completed in 1999, was Libeskind's first major international success and was one of the first buildings designed after reunification. Libeskind has also designed cultural and commercial institutions, museums, concert halls, convention centers, universities, residences, hotels, and shopping centers. Critics often describe Libeskind's work as deconstructivist.
Libeskind is perhaps most famous for being selected by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to oversee the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks. He titled his concept for the site Memory Foundations.
Studio Daniel Libeskind, headquartered two blocks south of the World Trade Center site in New York, is currently working on over 40 projects across the world. The studio's most recent completed projects include the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, California, The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge in Covington, Kentucky, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario.
In addition to his architectural projects, Libeskind also designs opera sets for productions such as the Norwegian National Theatre's The Architect in 1998 and Saarländisches Staatstheater's Tristan und Isolde in 2001. He also designed the sets and costumes for Intolleranza by Luigi Nono and for a production of Messiaen's Saint Francis of Assisi by Deutsche Oper Berlin. He has also written free verse prose, included in his book Fishing from the Pavement.
His vision of architecture
He decided to become one of the representatives of past, wanting to show to the world the horror of his history while integrating into these exhibitions a new hope, a will to make better tomorrow than yesterday, to understand the past, and to assimilate it. He does not want to make architecture meaningless which contents itself with its harmonious forms, he prefers to give a strong message, and he wants to cause an impact on the visitors. According to him, human existence is broken with so much violence so the structure of the life remains forever twisted and upset. We find this state of mind in the way he designs its buildings with deconstructivist shapes. Many critics say that he is a deconstructivist, but Libeskind likes to thinks that he is a contemporary architect and that he works with his time.
He opposes to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius in their idea that buildings must be neutral. He does not want to surround himself with neutral buildings; he prefers to face the history complexity and disorder of the reality. He wants to feel in the building a soul, a memory, a sense. At the beginning of every project, he tries to perceive the " essence of the site " He wants to create buildings, which respect and reflect the story of the place, the location, or the story of the building, which were here before; he wants his building to spread emotion to the people who will run over it. The emotions he wants to arouse have to testify a past, history, an understanding and a respect of what bring us here. He says that his memorials are not for the dead but for the living.
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