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An architect and musician

An architect and musician In Warsaw, at 44 Złota Street, a unique residential building is under construction. It may become a showpiece to the capital of Poland. Its designer is the world-famous architect Daniel Libeskind. His design for the utilization of „Ground Zero” (with the monumental Freedom Tower), the area left after the tragic attack on the WTC towers in 2001, was chosen in an international competition, and is being currently built.
Li­be­skind is con­si­de­red to be one of the most ac­ti­ve ar­chi­tects in the world, par­ti­cu­lar­ly in the area of mu­seum de­sign. The de­si­gns for mu­seums such as the Je­wish Mu­seum in Ber­lin, the War Mu­seum in Man­che­ster, Roy­al On­ta­rio Mu­seum, and others we­re all his work.
Da­niel Li­be­skind was born in Łódź in 1946 to a fa­mi­ly of Po­lish Jews who had su­rvi­ved the Ho­lo­caust. When he was young, he was mo­re in­te­re­sted in mu­sic than in ar­chi­tec­tu­re. In 1957, he emi­gra­ted to Isra­el with his fa­mi­ly, whe­re he so­on re­ce­ived an Ame­ri­can scho­lar­ship for mu­sic stu­dies. He so­on ga­ined re­co­gni­tion as a pia­nist and star­ted to play pro­fes­sio­nal­ly at the pre­sti­gio­us Car­ne­gie Hall in New York.
So­on, ho­we­ver, ano­ther field of know­led­ge be­gan to in­te­rest him – ar­chi­tec­tu­re. He to­ok up ar­chi­tec­tu­ral stu­dies at Cop­per Union, which he wo­uld com­ple­te with a de­gree in hi­sto­ry and the­ory of ar­chi­tec­tu­re on the sub­ject of „Ima­gi­na­tion and spa­ce” in 1972, at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Es­sex in En­gland.
Li­be­skind’s pro­fes­sio­nal ca­re­er as an ar­chi­tect be­gan in 1971 at the In­sti­tu­te of Ar­chi­tec­tu­re and Urban Stu­dies in New York; he then mo­ved to To­ron­to and ga­ined expe­rien­ce at the fa­mo­us Irving Gros­sman ar­chi­tec­tu­ral stu­dio. Al­so, at that ti­me, Li­be­skind be­gan his ca­re­er as an aca­de­mic lec­tu­rer, which he still do­es to­day.
It is be­lie­ved that Li­be­skind’s way of in­ter­pre­ting phi­lo­so­phy, his mu­si­cal tra­ining, and his Je­wish he­ri­ta­ge and the tra­ge­dy of the Ho­lo­caust – vi­si­ble in his lar­gest de­si­gns, ha­ve all in­flu­en­ced his ar­chi­tec­tu­re. Li­be­skind tre­ats ar­chi­tec­tu­re as an art of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, which is par­ti­cu­lar­ly vi­si­ble in his Je­wish Mu­seum in Ber­lin.
The bu­il­ding at 44 Zło­ta in War­saw is yet ano­ther chal­len­ge for Li­be­skind. It is com­pri­sed of cul­tu­ral re­spon­si­bi­li­ties, Po­lish­-Je­wish tra­di­tions, chil­dho­od me­mo­ries as­so­cia­ted with the Po­lish ca­pi­tal, and, of co­ur­se, the func­tio­na­li­ty of a re­si­den­tial bu­il­ding, whe­re its re­si­dents can find a su­ita­ble pla­ce to li­ve.
– It is one of the hi­ghest bu­il­dings in Eu­ro­pe. It was chal­len­ging, in tech­no­lo­gi­cal and vi­su­al terms. My task was to cre­ate a new show­pie­ce for War­saw. It is dif­fi­cult, be­cau­se the Pa­la­ce of Cul­tu­re and Scien­ce is ri­ght next to it, and I co­uld not de­sign any­thing in iso­la­tion from it. My sky­scra­per will be an im­por­tant po­int of re­fe­ren­ce in the to­po­gra­phy of the ci­ty – a pla­ce, whe­re pe­ople will li­ve, which they will co­me to, and thanks to which they will find the­ir way if they are lost. Each new de­sign is a chal­len­ge. Still, de­si­gning the bu­il­ding at 44 Zło­ta was par­ti­cu­lar­ly im­por­tant. The sky­scra­per is be­ing bu­ilt in my ho­me­land – in the ci­ty I grew up in, says Li­be­skind of his work.
In its form, the bu­il­ding re­sem­bles a sa­il. When asked why he cho­se a sa­il, the ar­chi­tect re­plied:
– I to­ok my in­spi­ra­tion from Po­lish cul­tu­re and li­te­ra­tu­re, among them Mi­łosz, Szym­bor­ska (Po­lish No­bel lau­re­ates) and Za­ga­jew­ski. I was al­so in­spi­red by young Po­les, who are open, am­bi­tio­us, and da­ring. War­saw is full of pe­ople li­ke that.
– Your „sa­il” will stand along­si­de the Pa­la­ce of Cul­tu­re and Scien­ce. Ma­ny pe­ople wo­uld li­ke that big bu­il­ding to di­sap­pe­ar from the pa­no­ra­ma of War­saw. What do you think abo­ut that? – they ask Li­be­skind.
– I al­ways em­pha­si­ze that ar­chi­tec­tu­re is not abo­ut de­stroy­ing, but abo­ut cre­ating. I ha­ve gre­at fond­ness for the Pa­la­ce, be­cau­se in the 1950s my aunt to­ok me the­re. It has be­co­me part of the land­sca­pe of War­saw and it sho­uld stay.
– Al­most all of the apart­ments in the bu­il­ding at 44 Zło­ta ha­ve be­en al­re­ady sold, tho­ugh they are among the most expen­si­ve in our ci­ty. Do you li­ke to li­ve in sky­scra­pers, or do you pre­fer a vil­la with a gar­den?
– I am in fa­vor of li­ving in sky­scra­pers. My apart­ment is lo­ca­ted on the top flo­or of one of the sky­scra­pers in Man­hat­tan. You can see the en­ti­re pa­no­ra­ma of New York from the win­dows. It is a ve­ry in­spi­ring view.
– Ha­ve you al­re­ady bo­ught your­self an apart­ment in the bu­il­ding at 44 Zło­ta?
– I wo­uld li­ke to, but first I ha­ve to earn mo­ney for it – lau­ghs Da­niel Li­be­skind.
Let us just say, at the end, that Li­be­skind’s bu­il­ding in War­saw will be 192 me­ters high, with 54 flo­ors and 251 apart­ments.
Ka­zi­mierz So­bo­lew­ski

Information published at 11 November 2011