World Trade Center site lead architect Daniel Libeskind to speak at Fairfield Unviersity


Image: Daniel LibeskindDaniel Libeskind, a world renowned designer and lead architect for the World Trade Center site, will speak on Sunday, Jan. 23, at 3 p.m. at Fairfield University. Libeskind's talk, entitled "A Vision for the Future: Daniel Libeskind on Architecture, Art and Urban Life," is part of Open VISIONS Forum, a program of University College.

A visionary known for his stunning creations for everything from the world's finest museums, operas and concert halls to university buildings, hotels and shopping centers, Libeskind sees spirituality in space, preserving a little mystery in each project he calls his own.

"Architecture's reality is as old as the substance of the things hoped for," he has said of his work. "It is the proof of things invisible. Contrary to public opinion the flesh of architecture is not cladding, insulation and structure, but the substance of the individual in society and history; a figuration of the inorganic and organic, the body and the soul, and that which is visible beyond."

Born in postwar Poland in 1946, Libeskind traveled to the United States as a teenager and became a U.S. citizen in 1965. He studied music in Israel and New York and was a virtuoso pianist before leaving music for his life's work, a career in architecture.

In 1970, Libeskind received his professional architectural degree from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. He also holds a postgraduate degree in History and Theory of Architecture at the School of Comparative Studies at Essex University in England.

By 1989, Libeskind, fast becoming a major force in the world of architecture, won the competition for the Jewish Museum in Berlin, which opened to wide public acclaim in 2001. Other museums followed, including the city museum of Osnabrück, Germany, The Felix Nussbaum Haus, which opened in 1998, and the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, England, which opened in 2002.

He also created the Atelier Weil, a private atelier/gallery in Mallorca, Spain in 2003. In the last year, he's celebrated the opening of two facilities he designed, the Graduate Student Center at the London Metropolitan University and the Danish Jewish Museum in Copenhagen.

At the opening of the Manchester museum just a year after the World Trade Center attacks, Libeskind, whose family survived the horrors of war in Europe, said he hoped the museum would address conflict all of us have witnessed.

"My aim was to create a building, not only intelligently programmed for the events which were to take place in it, but one which emotionally moved the soul of the visitor toward a sometimes unexpected realization," he said. "Conflict is not simply a story with a happy or unhappy ending, but an ongoing momentum which structures one's understanding of the future in relation to the past."

In 2003, Studio Daniel Libeskind won the World Trade Center Design study competition, and he has spent the last few years leading one of the most challenging design projects imaginable: By creating structures at Ground Zero, Libeskind had to find a way to preserve and honor the past while fostering hope for the future.

Visiting the site, Libeskind has said he was struck by the dramatic aura of the great slurry wall, an engineering wonder originally designed to hold back the Hudson River, that survived the trauma of the destruction. Libeskind sees the buildings' foundation standing "as the Constitution itself asserting the durability of Democracy and the value of individual life."

Given the sensitive nature of the project, some of Libeskind's initial ideas met with criticism. He has met the criticism with imaginative solutions to create memorials and tastefully recreate office space that was lost in the tragedy.

Libeskind's design incorporates two large public spaces, the Park of Heroes and the Wedge of Light, as well as Freedom Tower, a structure stretching a symbolic 1,776 feet high into the Manhattan skyline. The tower would make the building the tallest in the world. Libeskind envisions it augmented by hanging gardens.

"Why gardens? Because gardens are the constant affirmation of life," he said in his design study. "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."

Libeskind has shared his passion for architecture by teaching and lecturing at universities throughout the world. He has taught or held lectureships at the University of Toronto, Germany's Hochschule fur Gestaltung, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.

In 2001, Libeskind, the recipient of many other awards, was the first architect to ever win the Hiroshima Art Prize, an award given to artists who promote international understanding and peace. His memoir, "Breaking Ground" (Riverhead Books), was published in September 2004.

Tickets are $25, $22.50 for senior citizens. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit www.quickcenter.com.

Bookmark and Share

Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 21, 2004

Vol. 37, No. 126