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Daniel Libeskind


Daniel Libeskind

Daniel Libeskind
Libeskind in front of his extension to the Denver Art Museum.
Born (1946-05-12) May 12, 1946
Łódź, Poland
Nationality American-Polish
Alma mater The Cooper Union, University of Essex
Occupation Architect
Spouse(s) Nina Libeskind
Children 3
Parent(s) Dora Libeskind (mother)
Nachman Libeskind (father)
Website .comDaniel-Libeskind
Practice Studio Daniel Libeskind
Buildings Jewish Museum Berlin
Imperial War Museum North
Contemporary Jewish Museum
Royal Ontario Museum (expansion)
One World Trade Center (2002)

Daniel Libeskind (born May 12, 1946) is a Polish-American architect, artist, professor and set designer of Polish Jewish descent. Libeskind founded Studio Daniel Libeskind in 1989 with his wife, Nina, and is its principal design architect.[1] His buildings include the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany, the extension to the Denver Art Museum in the United States, the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin, the Imperial War Museum North in Greater Manchester, England, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, the Felix Nussbaum Haus in Osnabrück, Germany, the Danish Jewish Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Wohl Centre at the Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel.[2] His portfolio also includes several residential projects. Libeskind's work has been exhibited in major museums and galleries around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Bauhaus Archives, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Centre Pompidou.[3] On February 27, 2003, Libeskind won the competition to be the master plan architect for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.[4]


  • Personal life 1
  • Career 2
  • Criticism 3
  • Work 4
    • Completed 4.1
    • Under construction 4.2
    • Proposed or in design 4.3
    • Libeskind design products 4.4
  • Recognition 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Personal life

Libeskind's addition to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (2007).

Born in Łódź, Poland, Libeskind was the second child of Dora and Nachman Libeskind, both Polish Jews and Holocaust survivors. As a young child, Libeskind learned to play the accordion and quickly became a virtuoso, performing on Polish television in 1953. He won a prestigious America Israel Cultural Foundation scholarship in 1959 and played alongside a young Itzhak Perlman.[5] Libeskind lived in Poland for 13 years and can still speak, read, and write the Polish language.[6]

In 1957, the Libeskinds moved to Kibbutz Gvat, Israel and then to Tel Aviv before moving to New York in 1959. In his autobiography, Breaking Ground: An Immigrant's Journey from Poland to Ground Zero, Libeskind spoke of how the kibbutz experience influenced his concern for green architecture.[7]

In the summer of 1959, the Libeskinds moved to New York City on one of the last immigrant boats to the United States. In New York, Libeskind lived in the Amalgamated Housing Cooperative in the northwest Bronx, a union-sponsored, middle-income cooperative development. He attended the Bronx High School of Science. The print shop where his father worked was on Stone Street in Lower Manhattan, and Libeskind watched the original World Trade Center being built in the 1960s.[8] Libeskind became a United States citizen in 1965.[9] Libeskind met Nina Lewis, his future wife and business partner, at the Bundist-run Camp Hemshekh in upstate New York in 1966. They married a few years later and, instead of a traditional honeymoon, traveled across the United States visiting Frank Lloyd Wright buildings on a Cooper Union fellowship.[10] Nina now serves as COO for Studio Daniel Libeskind.

In 1968, Libeskind briefly worked as an apprentice to architect Richard Meier. In 1970, he received his professional architectural degree from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art; he received a postgraduate degree in History and Theory of Architecture at the School of Comparative Studies at the University of Essex in 1972. The same year, he was hired to work at Peter Eisenman's New York Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, but he quit almost immediately.[11] Since then, Libeskind has lived, among other places, in New York City, Toronto, Michigan, Italy, Germany, and Los Angeles,[10] and has taught at numerous universities across the world, including the University of Kentucky, Yale University, and the University of Pennsylvania.[9] Since 2007, Libeskind has been a visiting professor at the Leuphana University Lüneburg in Lüneburg, Germany. He is both a U.S. and Israeli citizen.[12]

Nina and Daniel Libeskind have three children: Lev, Noam, and Rachel.[13]


Libeskind began his career as an architectural theorist and professor, holding positions at various institutions around the world. His practical architectural career began in Milan in the late 1980s, where he submitted to architectural competitions and also founded and directed Architecture Intermundium, Institute for Architecture & Urbanism. Libeskind completed his first building at the age of 52, with the opening of the Felix Nussbaum Haus in 1998.[14] Prior to this, critics had dismissed his designs as "unbuildable or unduly assertive."[15] In 1987, Libeskind won his first design competition for housing in West Berlin, but the Berlin Wall fell shortly thereafter and the project was canceled. Libeskind won the first four projects competitions he entered.

The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge, Covington, Kentucky

The Jewish Museum Berlin, completed in 1999, was Libeskind's first major international success and was one of the first buildings designed after reunification. Libeskind has also designed cultural and commercial institutions, museums, concert halls, convention centers, universities, residences, hotels, and shopping centers. Critics often describe Libeskind's work as deconstructivist.[16]

Libeskind is perhaps most famous for being selected by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to oversee the rebuilding of the World Trade Center,[17] which was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks. He titled his concept for the site Memory Foundations.

Studio Daniel Libeskind, headquartered two blocks south of the World Trade Center site in New York, is currently working on more than forty projects across the world. The studio's most recent completed projects include Haeundae Udong Hyunai I'Park in Busan, South Korea, Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin in Berlin, Germany, the Bundeswehr Military History Museum in Dresden, Germany and Reflections at Keppel Bay in Singapore.

After Hurricane Katrina, Libeskind designed the proposed building of two glass condominium towers, each 30 stories in height, on the site of the defunct Jefferson Plaza shopping center on the Jefferson Highway in Jefferson Parish in suburban New Orleans, Louisiana. He was hired to perform the design by real estate developer James St. Raymond, a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. St. Raymond recruited purchasers who made a $1,000 deposit to reserve condominiums. Not only was the shopping center never demolished, but work was not initiated on the proposed condo towers, which St. Raymond had estimated would cost $350 million. In 2010, St. Raymond owed Libeskind $955,000 and filed for bankruptcy. He had further debts exceeding $361,000 to credit card companies, $29,000 to those who put up the $1,000 deposits, and another $13,000 to the Louisiana Department of Revenue. The Internal Revenue Service placed a $144,447 lien on St. Raymond's properties.[18]

In addition to his architectural projects, Libeskind has worked with a number of international design firms to develop objects, furniture, and industrial fixtures for interiors of buildings. He recently established a design company in Milan, Libeskind Design, which has been commissioned to work with design companies such as Fiam,[19] Artemide,[20] Jacuzzi,[21] TreP-Tre-Piu,[22] Oliviari,[23] Sawaya & Moroni,[24] Poltrona Frau,[25] and others.[26]

Libeskind has also designed opera sets for productions such as the Norwegian National Theatre's The Architect in 1998 and Saarländisches Staatstheater's Tristan und Isolde in 2001. He also designed the sets and costumes for Intolleranza by Luigi Nono and for a production of Messiaen's Saint Francis of Assisi by Deutsche Oper Berlin. He has also written free verse prose, included in his book Fishing from the Pavement.[27]


While much of Libeskind's work has been well-received, it has also been the subject of often severe criticism.[28] Critics charge that it reflects a limited architectural vocabulary of jagged edges, sharp angles and tortured geometries,[29] that can fall into cliche, and that it ignores location and context.[30] In 2008 LA Times critic Christopher Hawthorne wrote: "Anyone looking for signs that Daniel Libeskind's work might deepen profoundly over time, or shift in some surprising direction, has mostly been doing so in vain."[31] In 2006, in the New York Times Nicolai Ouroussoff stated: "his worst buildings, like a 2002 war museum in England suggesting the shards of a fractured globe, can seem like a caricature of his own aesthetic."[29] In the UK magazine Building Design, Owen Hatherley wrote of Libeskind's students' union for London Metropolitan University: "All of its vaulting, aggressive gestures were designed to 'put London Met on the map', and to give an image of fearless modernity with, however, little of consequence."[32] William JR Curtis in Architectural Review called his Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre "a pile-up of Libeskindian clichés without sense, form or meaning" and wrote that his Hyundai Development Corporation Headquarters delivered "a trite and noisy corporate message".[30]

In response, Libeskind says he ignores critics: "How can I read them? I have more important things to read."[33]


The following projects are listed on the Studio Daniel Libeskind website. The first date is the competition, commission, or first presentation date. The second is the completion date or the estimated date of completion.


Westside interior, 2008
London Metropolitan University, London

Under construction

Proposed or in design

Libeskind design products

  • 2007 Royal Ontario Museum Spirit House Chair, Nienkamper, Toronto, Canada
  • 2009 Tea Set, Sawaya & Moroni
  • 2009 Denver Door Handle, Olivari
  • 2011 eL Masterpiece, Zumtobel Group, Sawaya & Moroni
  • 2012 Torq Armchair and Table, Sawaya & Moroni
  • 2012 Zohar Street Lamp, Zumtobel Group
  • 2012 The Idea Door 1 & 2, TRE-Più
  • 2013 The Wing Mirror, Fiam
  • 2013 Flow, Jacuzzi
  • 2013 Paragon Lamp, Artemide
  • 2013 Nina Door Handle, Olivari
  • 2014 Ice Glass Installation, Lasvit



  • Daniel Libeskind: Countersign (1992) (ISBN 0-8478-1478-5)
  • Daniel Libeskind Radix-Matrix (1997) (ISBN 3-7913-1727-X)
  • Jewish Museum Berlin (with Helene Binet) (1999) (ISBN 90-5701-252-9)
  • Daniel Libeskind (2001) (ISBN 0-7893-0496-1)
  • Breaking Ground (2004) (ISBN 1-57322-292-5)
  • Counterpoint (2008) (ISBN 1-58093-206-1)


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Rochan, Lisa. "Libeskind shows genius for complexity", "The Globe and Mail", February 28, 2003
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Breaking Ground: An Immigrant's Journey from Poland to Ground Zero By Daniel Libeskind
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ See, Frequent Flyer. When the Wife is a Lucky Charm, Don't Leave Home Without Her. The New York Times, Tuesday, August 9, 2011, p. B6.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Erbacher, Doris and Kubitz, Peter Paul. "'You appear to have something against right angles", "The Guardian", October 11, 2007
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Davies, Colin. "Fishing From the Pavement – Book Reviews", "The Architectural Review", April 1998
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b
  30. ^ a b
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ World Trade Center Site Refined Master Site Plan
  35. ^ Building work to start on “iconic” Durham University research centre
  36. ^ Odgen Centre at Durham University
  37. ^ Peres invited to advise on restoration of Vilnius synagogue
  38. ^ Sinoo, Ola "What's the Added Value of Architecture?", "Europe Real Estate Yearbook", 2008 Archived July 10, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^
  40. ^ University of Ulster Honours World-Leading Architect Daniel Libeskind University of Ulster News Release, November 11, 2009

External links

  • Official Studio Libeskind homepage
  • Daniel Libeskind papers, 1968–1992 Research Library at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, California
  • Libeskind Residences as part of CityLife (Milan) project
  • Libeskind Tower as part of CityLife (Milan) project
  • Daniel Libeskind at TED
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