Daniel Libeskind is one of the architects of our time that change our perception of the world. His internationally acclaimed works bear witness to his innovative and contemporary ideas.
Architecture is one of the most visible and enduring forms of expression covering the entire length of human history. Most historical civilizations are even identified by their surviving architectural relics: the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, the Golden Pavilion in Japan, or the Taj Mahal in India. The architect Daniel Libeskind creates buildings that aim to stay in the story. The Jewish Museum in Berlin was its first big international success. Some other notable works include the Grand Canal Theater in Dublin and the Imperial War Museum North in England.
The beginnings of Daniel Libeskind
Daniel Libeskind was born in 1946 in Poland. In 1959, the young man moved with his family to New York where he first studied at the Bronx High School of Science. Later, he enrolled in the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art to take classes in architecture. In 1972, Daniel Libeskind briefly worked for the famous architect Richard Meier and other architects.
But, according to him, he felt quickly stifled by what he considered a conformist attitude in such offices. Daniel Libeskind did not want to emulate the design ideas and theories of architecture of others. Instead, he wanted to develop his own ideas and encourage other young architects to think independently. He decided to pursue his career in teaching. The architect has taught at the University of Kentucky and at universities in Toronto, Canada and London, England. At thirty-two, he accepted the position of director of the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Detroit.
In 1985, after seven years as director of Cranbrook Academy, Daniel Libeskind moved to Milan, Italy, to found his own small school - Architecture Intermundium. He wanted the school to offer"an alternative to traditional schooling or the traditional way of working in an office... The school was between two worlds, neither the purely practical world nor the academic world. "Daniel Libeskind was the only teacher in his school, teaching a dozen students at a time.
Daniel Libeskind after the success
A few years later, in 1989, he founded Studio Daniel Libeskind with his wife Nina Lewis. Son of Polish Jews and Holocaust survivors, he devoted much of his illustrious career to commemorating his legacy through visually vibrant buildings, often with striking angularity that seems to defy gravity. His work is often described as deconstructivist. It is a postmodern architectural style characterized by fragmentation and distortion. His design of the United Kingdom's Imperial War Museum North with its three intersection parts inspired by shards of a broken globe is an example.
In addition to the buildings, Daniel Libeskind has also applied his visionary aesthetic to large-scale sculptures, furniture and interior installations. Here, we present a selection of his most famous and poignant contributions in the field of architecture.
1. Frederic C. Hamilton Building
Inspired by the rugged peaks of the Rocky Mountains, the Denver Art Museum's Frederic C. Hamilton Building is an extension of the original Gio Ponti Institution building in 1971. The titanium structure, which opened in 2006, is home to the art of Oceania and Africa, as well as the museum's collection of modern and contemporary art.
2. Denver Art Museum Residences
Directly in front of the addition of the Denver Art Museum is another design by Daniel Libeskind. It is a seven-storey building with luxury condos called the Museum Residences. The whole structure with a pointed geometric facade that complements the Frederic C. Hamilton Building is made of metal and glass. On the one hand, it surrounds the parking lot of the complex and offers pretty views of the city from the other.
3. Bord Gáis Energy Theater (or Grand Canal Theater)
Completed in 2010, Dublin's Bord Gáis Energy Theater is an angular glass and steel structure that houses a 2,000-seat performing arts center. The building is part of the Grand Canal Commercial Complex. It includes a large esplanade designed by Daniel Libeskind and flanked by two other projects, a five-star hotel and an office building.
4. Jewish Museum Berlin
The international reputation of Libeskind as an architect was consolidated when in 1989 he won the competition to build an addition to the Berlin museum that would house the collection of objects related to the Jewish history of the museum of the city. Despite a decade of opposition through local politics, the building itself was completed in 1999 and opened as a museum in 2001.
Daniel Libeskind, who lost most of his family in the Holocaust, worked to convey several levels of meaning. The base of the complex is broken zigzag, creating a floor plan that resembles the Star of David that the Nazis forced the Jews to wear prominently on their clothes. Throughout the museum runs a space known as Void which is a path of rough and white concrete walls. Visitors can see the void, but they can not enter or use it to access other parts of the museum. In this way, he suggests both notions of absence and of paths not followed. The angular slices of the windows allow the light to create a disorienting and almost violent sensation throughout the structure while an adjacent sculpture garden creates a sense of meditative silence.
As the space experience in the museum is so powerful, many felt that the building could serve better as a memorial without any installation. The controversy swirled around this proposal until, in 2000-01, Daniel Libeskind remodeled the building somewhat to facilitate its museum function.
5. The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal
Dubbed the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, this steel-clad addition from the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto was completed in 2007. The stunning structure includes an exhibition space, an atrium that serves as a visitor's entrance, a gift shop and three crystalline restaurants. Studio Libeskind has also renovated ten additional galleries in the former museum building as part of this project.
6. London Metropolitan University Graduate Center
Designed with embossed stainless steel panels that seem to liven up the facade of the building, the London Metropolitan University Graduate Center is home to various spaces. These are conference rooms, offices and a cafe. The building, completed in 2004, has windows that create a striking visual dynamic with the geometry of the exterior and the overall silhouette of the structure.
7. Imperial War Museum North
Designed to mimic fragments of a broken globe, the Imperial War Museum North in the United Kingdom was completed in Manchester in 2001. It is dedicated to exhibitions that examine how the war has affected the lives of British citizens since 1914. three"pieces"of the building, entirely covered with aluminum, symbolize the earth, the air and the water, each sheltering a different wing of the museum.
8. Contemporary Jewish Museum
Completed in 2008, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in downtown San Francisco has a geometric shape clad in blue steel. The building is coming out of a brick building that was once a power station. The steel part, which contains exhibition, performance and event spaces, is designed to mimic the Hebrew letters"chet"and"yud", spelling out the"chaim"or"to life".
The 36 diamond-shaped windows illuminate the last floor of the cube known as"Yud"which hosts sound and performance exhibitions. The other section of the museum, an oblique rectangle known as"Chet", holds the narrow lobby, an education center and part of a gallery upstairs.
9. Tangent Building in Seoul, South Korea
Commissioned by the Hyundai Development Corporation, the facade of the Tangent Building in Seoul, South Korea was completed in 2005 to connect the structure to a public square. Daniel Libeskind designed the facade with a bold graphic mix of balconies and louvers, as well as an inclined vector that emerges from the floor and seems to slice into the building.
The Vanke Pavilion in Milan was completed in 2015 as a temporary structure with exhibition spaces for Expo Milan in the same year. Inspired by the elements of Chinese culture, the building forms a slightly twisted abstract shape coated with metallic ceramic tiles. After Expo, the tiles and steel parts of the building were all recycled.
The Vanke Pavilion concept incorporates three ideas from Chinese food culture. These are the"shi-tang"- a traditional Chinese dining room, the landscape - the fundamental element of life and the dragon that is metaphorically linked to agriculture and sustenance.
11. Felix Nussbaum Haus
The Felix Nussbaum Haus in Osnabrück, Germany, is an extension of the city's cultural history museum dedicated to the homonymous Jewish artist. Completed in 1998, the wood and steel building has an interior designed with steep intersections, confined spaces and dead ends. All this aims to evoke the persecution of Nussbaum during the Second World War.
12. Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London
Lined with eighteen towers, the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion of Libeskind opened its doors in the summer of 2001. With an origami-shaped design, the building is clad in aluminum foil to reflect the surrounding landscape. The temporary structure, located on the lawn of the London Gallery, provided space for conferences, parties and a café under its overlapping angular segments.
13. The L Tower in Toronto
The L Tower in Toronto, Canada has a striking silhouette that tilts gently before narrowing at the top. The skyscraper, clad in shiny glass with blue mullions, houses nearly 600 condos and is next to the city's iconic Sony Center for the Performing Arts. Both are connected by a public square. The 58-storey building also has built-in balconies for panoramic city views.
14. Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr
The German city Dresden houses the Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr. It is a classic building that is visually cut in two by the addition of Libeskind in 2011. The breathtaking glass and steel exhibition space includes an observation deck at its summit that offers a panoramic view of the city.
15. The project for the World Trade Center site
In 2003, Daniel Libeskind won an international competition to rebuild the site of the World Trade Center in New York. During the competition phase, many debates took place. They concerned the question of whether a new, larger structure should be built or whether the site would not be left as a form of memorial.
Daniel Libeskind's plan approached both visions in a thoughtful way. It combined a glass tower, designed to be the tallest in the world, with open memorial gardens that represent the"footprints"of the two fallen towers. Its design has been accepted by both the architectural community and the general public. But commercial and security concerns finally took away the original design. Other political and practical considerations ultimately influenced the modification of the tower.