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.