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Daniel Libeskind, Master Planner for the New York World Trade Center

By

Daniel Libeskind

Daniel Libeskind

Photo © Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Born:

May 12, 1946 in Lodz, Poland

Early Life:

Daniel Libeskind's parents survived the Holocaust and met while in exile. As a child growing up in Poland, Daniel became a gifted player of the accordion--an instrument his parents had chosen because it was small enough to fit in their apartment.

The family moved to Tel Aviv, Israel when Daniel was 11. He began playing piano and in 1959 won an America-Israel Cultural Foundation scholarship. The award made it possible for the family to move to the USA.

Living with his family in a small apartment in the Bronx borough of New York City, Daniel continued to study music. He didn't want to become a performer, however, so he enrolled in Bronx High School of Science. In 1965, Daniel Libeskind became a naturalized citizen of the USA and decided to study architecture in college.

Education:

  • 1970: Architecture degree from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
  • 1972: Postgraduate degree in History and Theory of Architecture from Essex University

Important Buildings:

NY World Trade Center:

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many architects submitted plans for reconstruction on Ground Zero in New York City. After heated discussion, judges selected the proposal submitted by Daniel Libeskind's firm, Studio Libeskind.

Libeskind's original plan called for a 1,776-foot (541m) spindle-shaped "Freedom Tower" with 7.5 million square feet of office space and room for indoor gardens above the 70th floor. At the center of the World Trade Center complex, a 70-foot pit would expose the concrete foundation walls of the former Twin Tower buildings.

During the years that followed, Daniel Libeskind's plan underwent many changes. Another architect, David Childs, became the lead designer for Freedom Tower, which was later renamed 1 World Trade Center. Daniel Libeskind became the master planner for the entire World Trade Center complex, coordinating the overall design and reconstruction. See pictures:

In 2012 the American Institute of Architects (AIA) honored Libeskind with a Gold Medallion for his contributions as an Architect of Healing.

In the Words of Daniel Libeskind:

In his proposal for reconstruction on Ground Zero, Daniel Libeskind wrote:

"I arrived by ship to New York as a teenager, an immigrant, and like millions of others before me, my first sight was the Statue of Liberty and the amazing skyline of Manhattan. I have never forgotten that sight or what it stands for. This is what this project is all about.

"When I first began this project, New Yorkers were divided as to whether to keep the site of the World Trade Center empty or to fill the site completely and build upon it. I meditated many days on this seemingly impossible dichotomy. To acknowledge the terrible deaths which occurred on this site, while looking to the future with hope, seemed like two moments which could not be joined. I sought to find a solution which would bring these seemingly contradictory viewpoints into an unexpected unity. So, I went to look at the site, to stand within it, to see people walking around it, to feel its power and to listen to its voices. And this is what I heard, felt and saw.

"The great slurry walls are the most dramatic elements which survived the attack, an engineering wonder constructed on bedrock foundations and designed to hold back the Hudson River. The foundations withstood the unimaginable trauma of the destruction and stand as eloquent as the Constitution itself asserting the durability of Democracy and the value of individual life.

"We have to be able to enter this hallowed, sacred ground while creating a quiet, meditative and spiritual space. We need to journey down, some 70 feet into Ground Zero, onto the bedrock foundation, a procession with deliberation into the deep indelible footprints of Tower One and Tower Two.

"The foundation, however, is not only the story of tragedy but also reveals the dimensions of life. The PATH trains continue to traverse this ground now, as before, linking the past to the future. Of course, we need a Museum at the epicenter of Ground Zero, a museum of the event, of memory and hope. The Museum becomes the entrance into Ground Zero, always accessible, leading us down into a space of reflection, of meditation, a space for the Memorial itself. This Memorial will be the result of an international competition.

"Those who were lost have become heroes. To commemorate those lost lives, I created two large public places, the Park of Heroes and the Wedge of Light. Each year on September 11th between the hours of 8:46 a.m., when the first airplane hit and 10:28 a.m., when the second tower collapsed, the sun will shine without shadow, in perpetual tribute to altruism and courage.

"We all came to see the site, more than 4 million of us, walking around it, peering through the construction wall, trying to understand that tragic vastness. So I designed an elevated walkway, a space for a Memorial promenade encircling the memorial site. Now everyone can see not only Ground Zero but the resurgence of life.

"The exciting architecture of the new Lower Manhattan rail station with a concourse linking the PATH trains, the subways connected, hotels, a performing arts center, office towers, underground malls, street level shops, restaurants, cafes; create a dense and exhilarating affirmation of New York.

"The sky will be home again to a towering spire of 1776 feet high, the "Gardens of the World". Why gardens? Because gardens are a constant affirmation of life. A skyscraper rises above its predecessors, reasserting the pre-eminence of freedom and beauty, restoring the spiritual peak to the city, creating an icon that speaks of our vitality in the face of danger and our optimism in the aftermath of tragedy.

"Life victorious."

Architect's Statement Courtesy of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.

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