Its not often you come across someone who has pretty much crystallized every seemingly disparate thought you’ve ever had into something profound and meaningful. I had that moment last week though when I heard architect Daniel Libeskind present and had the opportunity to interview him.
I think it was Goethe who said “I call architecture frozen music”, and had he been alive today he may have been referring to the work of Studio Libeskind. Polish-born Libeskind was actually a virtuoso musician before he became an architect. He believes both art forms share a great deal in common, being crafted with perceptible and imperceptible human energy, and being partly ethereal.
His studio is responsible for some of the most iconic urban landmarks worldwide, including; the ground zero master plan NYC, the military history museum in Dresden, Jewish museum in Berlin, the Run Run Shaw creative media centre in Hong Kong, and numerous other commercial, residential and cultural buildings.
Libeskind’s presentation covered seven of his projects under segments entitled; Hand, Expressive, Heritage, Sculpture, Dialogue, Diversity and Rebirth. But it was during the group interview that he impressed me the most. Libeskind is an artist, a poet, and a philosopher. And I would have liked to have sat and talked with him for hours.
He touched upon a topic that has been on my mind a lot recently, that the built environment has a great impact on the mental health and well being of it’s occupants. We are living in an age where we are becoming more and more aware and concerned about our health, our food and where it comes from, and its nutritional content. I can only hope that in the future far greater importance will be placed on the impact of our physical surroundings. Where we live, where we work, and how we get around.
When asked about Hong Kong specifically, Libeskind called it a “daring” city, and suggested that its planners and designers needed also be daring. That the city should not just be a portfolio piece for starchitects, but that it needs to be more inventive, and perhaps a take some risks. Hong Kong is no long a city that trades goods, it now trades ideas, so a quantum shift is perhaps needed to get us into a new era, adding that cities that don’t make space for creative people have no future…
Libeskind is a master at the slick, but insincere sales pitch. He is known for loading up his talks with all the feel good buzzwords and phrases he thinks the audience will want to hear. But his work is another thing altogether. His buildings are agressive, hostile, out of place and serve no purpose other than gratifying Libeskind’s ginormous ego. And that’s not just my opinion. In an international poll, Libeskind’s Crystal addition to Toronto’s wonderful old ROM museum made it to the list of The World’s Top Ten Ugliest Buildings. Libeskind is not happy unless he’s offending the sensibilities of others. It’s all about HIM.
Nice blog, by the way. Apart from the misplaced Libeskind article, the rest is inspiring stuff.
Wow, Anon. Even though you’re dissing me, I’m happy that someone actually left a though provoking comment on my blog. To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about Liebeskind before BODW. I will indeed look it up, as you suggest. Even if what you say is true, he was still an inspirational speaker….
Did Libeskind mention that he was fired from the WTC project or is he still pretending he’s involved? And did he tell that funny story about how he lied to the New York Times when he said he designed his own apartment in New York? (The NYT published a correction after they found out Libeskind paid Alex Gorlin to design it for him and then he tried to cover it up.) And did Libeskind tell that story about how he used political pull to get an architectural license in New York State after he could not pass the exams in the conventional way? (You could look it up!)
Nice article parodying Daniel as a serious architect, by the way. For a moment there I thought you were serious, but of course no-one could be serious about liking this phony! Whew!!
Hello Suzy! I just wanted to tell you (again – though it’s been a long time since I commented on your blog) how much I like your blog. I used your bangkok favourites on a recent trip and absolutely loved Gaggan! here’s the link to the post if you’re interested http://www.joyoflittlethings.com