This week we look into an architect with a base in the commercial world. Daniel Libeskind is a Polish born Jew who stands out not only because of the success of his work, but also the personal heart behind each work. On the outside, Libeskind's work can appear populist and commercial, standing as shiny, glossy exteriors that puncture a skyline, but at the centre his work is a very personal connection with history and the past.
Libeskind was born in Poland to Dora and Nachman Libeskind, both Holocaust survivors. One may question the importance of this fact, but the more one delves into the world of Libeskind, the more one discovers that this history informs his work tremendously. He is an artist who has a firm understanding of his past and his work is often an exploration of this theme. This understanding of past has obviously been an important aspect of his life and this was demonstrated beautifully when he created an addition to the Jewish Museum in Berlin.
The intelligence of this building is not only in it's fragmented, sharp design. Nor in it's cold, concrete and steel framework, but really in the experience within. As one wonders through an isolated building of silence, you are forced to walk through empty corridor spaces with surreal lighting, across a hall covered in steel tiles that echo at each footstep and traverse underground losing your senses. Libeskind is helping the viewer understand the history and troubles of the past through this experience and in this sense his work becomes much more than architecture.
Libeskind was later selected to design the master plan for the new buildings at Ground Zero, New York. His approach and understanding of such tragic events seem to create the most remarkable and effective designs possible. Although some of these ideas were dismissed, it is encouraging to know that Libeskind will be at the heart of such an interesting and emotive project.
For more information on the sublime and trans-formative nature of Libeskind's work, check out the BBC documentary "Daniel Libeskind - The Making of an Architect." Unfortunately, it isn't online but it is available at the university library.
Further Reading and References
Studio Daniel Libeskind - http://daniel-libeskind.com/
"Between The Lines" The Jewish Museum, Berlin - http://www.architectureoflife.net/Blog/910/-%E2%80%9Cbetween-the-lines%E2%80%9D-the-jewish-museum-berlin.aspx
Jewish Museum, Berlin - http://www.archdaily.com/91273/ad-classics-jewish-museum-berlin-daniel-libeskind/
Jewish Museum, Berlin, Official Site - http://www.jmberlin.de/main/EN/04-About-The-Museum/00-about-the-museum.php