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Berlin City Edge

©Olivier Martin-Gambier

Berlin City Edge, 1987-1988

Daniel Libeskind
  • Architect (1946)
www.daniel-libeskind.com

The internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind is not only a theoretician, scenographer and musician hooked on mathematics, but he is also director of two agencies, one in Berlin and one in New York as well as being a professor responsible for prestigious schools of architecture. Best known for his Jewish Museum in Berlin (1989-1999) and for winning the competition for the new World Trade Center (New York, 2002 – under construction), he has designed many other spectacular buildings over the last fifteen years involving programs as varied as museums, housing as well as university and commercial facilities. However, up until the 1980s, the architect mainly focused on theoretical research. Two closely occurring events propelled him to the forefront of the architectural scene. The first was his winning first prize in the competition for the housing development project in Berlin, Berlin City Edge. The second was his participation in the famous exhibition, Deconstructivist Architecture, at the MoMA in New York (1988). Libeskind emphasizes the role of history and memory in his work, imbuing his structures with a powerful symbolic dimension. He plans the experience of a space as a sort of ordeal that must challenge the visitor’s emotions. He achieves this with heavy and sharp volumes, dramatic contrasts of dilated and compressed spaces, inclined planes and obliterated openings, which, through his skillful arrangements, seize and engage the visitor’s mind and body (Jewish Museum, San Francisco, 2008; Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, UK, 2001; and the Extension to the Denver Art museum, 2006). Whether Daniel Libeskind’s projects involve a small scale (The Villa, 2009; 18.36.54, 2009) or a much vaster one (Master Plans for Warsaw and Dublin, projects for complexes in Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore), he always seeks to mark his sites with a unique imprint.

Daniel Libeskind (Lodz, 1946), born in Poland and a U.S. citizen since 1965, began by studying the piano in Israel and then in New York, where he arrived in 1960. There, he developed an intense interest in mathematics, painting and finally architecture, earning his degree in architecture in 1970 from the Cooper Union in New York with John Hejduk, and writing a thesis on the history and theory of architecture entitled Imagination and Space, at the University of Essex in 1972. Libeskind has also had a distinguished career as a professor, heading the department of architecture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan (1978-85) and founding Architecture Intermundium (1986-89), a private institute of architecture and urbanism in Milan. In 1988 he participated in the exhibition at the MoMA in New York entitled Deconstructivist Architecture. He has also won many architecture prizes.

Nadine Labedade