Architect Daniel Libeskind discusses the perseverance, collaboration and creative process that define his iconic structures, which include the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the master plan for the World Trade Center.
On the inspiration behind his design for the World Trade Center: “When you take that walk on that ramp – which was there, 75 feet, to the bedrock – your life will change. My life changed…And I just suddenly had a vision that everything I'd been doing in my office in Berlin at that time, just throw it out…. forget all the things, all the experts. It's not about that. It's about the fact that nothing should be built where people perished….It was a kind of radical idea because at that point, every architect proposed large-scale mega structures in the center. But I thought it was just not right to build on that. And then I sort of put the buildings as far as possible away from a public place, which had the footprints, which had the idea of the waterfalls….So I didn’t see it as a standalone 16-acre site. I saw it as a public place.”
On Architecture: “Architecture is, I think, the profession of hope, because it’s a sermon in concrete – the sermon in glass. It’s not just a utilitarian object, like a car or a washing machine or an air conditioner. It’s something different. It has a cultural depth to it. And it has a certain depth of physiognomy that we need.”
On the importance of traveling to all of his projects: “If you're on a remote control, it's easy. Everything is remote. You just send instructions remotely. But if you're doing something which is even mildly unusual, mildly departing from the formula, something that has never been done, unprecedented, you have to be there.…So we have to go to the places whether they're in Africa or in Asia, whatever we are building, and meet with the people, look them in the eye, and there's no substitute. Artificial intelligence is fantastic but it's never going to replace that special contact you have with a human being, which is ineffable. You can't calculate it.”