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Daniel Libeskind: Architect at Ground Zero

From his Jewish Museum in Berlin to his proposal for the World Trade Center site, Daniel Libeskind designs buildings that reach out to history and humanity

In actuality, Libeskind’s so-called Spiral does not look like a spiral at all. Instead, he envisions a series of ascending cubes, all covered in ceramic tile and glass, that fit together and provide access through six passageways to all the floors of the adjacent museum buildings. The Spiral would serve as a second entrance to the Victoria and Albert and would house the collections of contemporary decorative art that are now scattered throughout the old buildings.

 

The Spiral’s defenders are just as determined as its detractors, and Libeskind’s design has won approval from all the required planning and art boards in London. But the museum must come up with $121 million for the project, which Libeskind hopes will be completed in 2006. Mark Jones, director of the museum, seems confident about raising the money. “The Spiral is a building of outstanding genius,” he says. “I choose these words carefully. I think not to build it would be a shame. It’s a rare opportunity to make a building of this distinction come into existence.”

 

Libeskind’s design for the WorldTradeCenter site has so far suffered no such controversy. His studio was among the seven teams of architects chosen by New York’s Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to submit designs for the site of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. When the proposals were unveiled in December, Libeskind’s drew rave reviews.

 

“If you are looking for the marvelous,” wrote Herbert Muschamp, architecture critic of the New York Times, “here’s where you will find it.” Benjamin Forgey, architecture critic of the Washington Post, pronounced Libes-kind’s design his favorite: “Every piece of his surprising, visually compelling puzzle seems somehow to relate to the difficult meaning of the site.” Paul Goldberger, of the New Yorker, called the design “brilliant and powerful.”

 

On February 4, Libeskind’s plan was selected as a finalist in the competition, along with that of the team Think, led by New York City-based architects Rafael Viñoly and Frederic Schwartz. Muschamp of the Times had endorsed the Think team’s design in January, calling it “a work of genius.” A final decision was to be made by the end of February.

 

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