Architect Daniel Libeskind, known for his dynamic, fractured compositions, is also recognized for introducing a new critical discourse to architecture. In an enormous variety of projects around the world—major cultural institutions, convention centers, universities, hotels, commercial centers, and residential work—he has manifested his commitment to expanding the horizons of architecture and urbanism. Counterpoint: Daniel Libeskind is the first comprehensive portrait of the work of Studio Daniel Libeskind, which was established in Berlin in 1989 and moved to New York in 2003 after winning the World Trade Center design competition.
Drawn from a series of interviews with celebrated architecture critic Paul Goldberger, Counterpoint exemplifies Libeskind's multidisciplinary approach, which reflects a profound interest in philosophy, art, music, literature, theater, and film. Along with Memory Foundations, the master plan for the World Trade Center site, featured projects include the Jewish Museum Berlin, the Royal Ontario Museum, the extension to the Denver Art Museum, the MGM Mirage CityCenter in Las Vegas, a multi-building complex in Busan, South Korea, and projects in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Israel, Mexico, Japan, and China.
Daniel Libeskind in Conversation with Paul GoldbergerIntroduction
Daniel, your practice is now a huge operation with a main office in New York, and other offices in Zurich and Milan. It’s a big enterprise. A dozen years ago or so, there was only a handful of employees and a small amount of work, and the nature of that work was more academic and theoretical. How did the transition evolve from small and academic to large and, in many ways, more commercial?I like to think it’s a natural evolution of a practice. I started with a single building: the Jewish Museum Berlin. I never built a building before. But even when I was doing what seemed to others to be abstract drawings, I never thought of them as theoretical but as somehow part of an investigation of architecture.
The curve has gone very much more dramatically upward.I know that many architects would think that the object of their career is to build a museum. I have been fortunate to build a great number. But architecture has to engage in the whole spectrum of needs, such as housing, shopping, education, and office buildings. I certainly love the expanded opportunities. In fact, I try to blur the lines between these different typologies in order to see what is common between them as the art of architecture. I used to do one project at a time, but now I’m equally and intensely involved with many projects. I never enjoyed doing just a sketch of a concept and handing it over to others.
You had anticipated my next question, which is one of management and administration. How is it possible for one man to be completely involved in all of the work in an office as large and as diverse as this now is?Well, first of all, I have Nina, who is a master at managing the complex operations of the studio. And of course, I am supported by extraordinarily bright and talented young architects from all over the world. In architecture, different projects are not done at the same time. If you have thirty projects, some are at the conceptual stage, some in development, some in working drawings, some in construction. So the demands are not beyond what I can do. It’s sometimes hard to explain that even in this scope of practice, I’m still designing every window, checking every form, and coordinating every detail—making sure that each building is a hand-crafted work. And that’s what I love to do! If I wasn’t doing that, if I didn’t allow myself to do that, I wouldn’t enjoy it. The diversity of different projects, in fact, finds unexpected connections and leads to new discoveries. The complexity of practice often subverts the prejudice of theory. So the mix has enriched my world view and hasn’t reduced it.
Excerpted from Counterpoint by Daniel Libeskind, Paul Goldberger. Copyright © 2008 by The Monacelli Press. Excerpted by permission of The Monacelli Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Table of Contents
Counterpoint: Daniel Libeskind
in Conversation with Paul Goldberger
Jewish Museum Berlin
Editoriale Bresciana Tower
Westside Shopping and Leisure Center
Haeundae Udong Hyundai I’Park
Busan, South Korea
Danish Jewish Museum
The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge
Extension to the Denver Art Museum, Frederic C. Hamilton Building
Denver Art Museum Residences
Military History Museum
Grand Canal Square Theatre and Commercial Development
Creative Media Centre
Incheon, South Korea
Keppel Bay, Singapore
MGM Mirage CityCenter
Las Vegas, Nevada
London Metropolitan University Graduate Centre
Extension to the Victoria and Albert Museum
Imperial War Museum North
New Milford, Connecticut
New York, New York
New York Tower
New York, New York
Felix Nussbaum Haus
Memoria e Luce
Tour Signal, La Défense
Port d’Andratx, Spain
The Wohl Centre
Ramat Gan, Israel
The Contemporary Jewish Museum
San Francisco, California
Seoul, South Korea
St. Petersburg, Russia
Royal Ontario Museum
The L Tower and Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
Hermitage-Guggenheim Vilnius Museim