World-renowned architect and designer Daniel Libeskind is known for creating some of the world’s most imaginative structures that are celebrated not just for their aesthetic magnificence, but also for their social and cultural significance.
A distinguishing factor in Libeskind’s work is his humanistic approach to building design—museums, convention centers, universities, hotels, shopping centers, and residential projects that celebrate what he calls “life, victorious.”
He uses the term in his essay “Memory Foundations,” wherein he talks about the design of the Freedom Tower. Libeskind, through his Studio Daniel Libeskind, won the competition for the masterplan of the World Trade Center site on New York’s Ground Zero. Such is evident in the boldness of his designs, and the resulting character it brings out in the edifices that eventually make a mark on the skyline in which it calls home.
He writes: “At a resonant 1,776 feet tall, the Freedom Tower—in my master plan, second in importance only to the 9/11 memorial itself—will rise above its predecessors, reasserting the preeminence of freedom and beauty, restoring the spiritual peak to the city and proclaiming America’s resilience even in the face of profound danger, of our optimism even in the aftermath of tragedy. Life, victorious.”
The tower’s height is not without symbolism; Libeskind had made it 1,776 feet tall as an homage to the year the United States declared its independence.
Freedom and beauty
This “preeminence of freedom and beauty” is evident in his architectural design for the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, United Kingdom; the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany; Danish Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark; the Contemporary Jewish Museum in California; and the Military History Museum in Dresden, among others.
The Imperial War Museum North has won the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects award in 2004 and was named one of the Top 10 Buildings of the Last Century, while the Jewish Museum Berlin has been awarded the 1999 German Architecture Prize and The Best of 1998-Artforum International Award.
More importantly, Libeskind’s work transcends aesthetic significance; his architectural design for the Military History Museum in Dresden, for example, has been awarded the 2013 Micheletti Prize for “making a unique effort to change the grammar of the past, as it is seen and understood by today’s society in order to bring more hope for peace in the world.”
Libeskind has, in fact, been honored several times for fostering peace and understanding through his work. He most recently received the Annetje Fels-Kupferschmidt Award from the Dutch Auschwitz Committee, and has previously received the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal from the DKR: German Coordinating Council of Societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation.
The Polish-American is also the first architect to receive the prestigious Hiroshima Art Prize, which is given to an artist “whose work promotes international understanding and peace.” He has also been honored with a Lifetime Achievement in Architectural Community Award in the 9th annual Emirates Glass LEAF Awards.
Also a much sought-after lecturer, Libeskind has been featured in the popular TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talks series, where he proclaimed:
“Architecture is not based on concrete and steel and elements of the soil. It’s based on wonder and that wonder is what really created the greatest cities, the greatest spaces that we have had.”
He recently presented the 13th annual Stephen Lawrence Trust Lecture of the Royal Institute of British Architects and has appeared in the symposium, “Practical Utopias at all Scales: The Diversity of International Work in Asia”.
Cities of the future
In the coming years, Libeskind’s designs would be seen redefining the architectural landscape in Asia—works that are seen to transform the region’s major areas into cities of the future.
Libeskind’s architectural design for the Haeundae Udong Hyundai I’Park in Busan, South Korea plays with the concept of traditional Korean architecture, “often derived from natural beauty such as the grace of an ocean wave, the unique composition of a flower petal, or the wind-filled sails of a ship.” Completed in 2013, it is the tallest residential building in Asia.
In Singapore, Libeskind brings his creative touch to the Corrals at Keppel Bay—a luxurious waterfront residential community scheduled to be completed in 2017, and in China, the Zhang Zhidong and Modern Industrial Museum.
The Philippines, too, will be home to one of Libeskind’s most exciting projects in the region—Century Spire, the latest tower to rise in premiere real estate developer Century Properties Group’s Makati development, Century City. Century Properties is known for its successful branded partnerships with the world’s leading names in real estate development, architecture, and design.
In Century Spire, Libeskind’s signature boldness will once again be palpable. After all, he sees it as a way to “reshape Manila’s skyline, and to make a bold optimistic statement about the future of the Philippines.”