An international figure in architectural practice and urban design, Daniel Libeskind is well known for introducing a new critical discourse on architecture and for his multidisciplinary approach. His practice extends from building major cultural and commercial institutions—including museums and concert halls—to convention centers, universities, housing, hotels, shopping centers, and residential work. He also designs opera sets and maintains an object design studio.
Born to Holocaust survivors in postwar Poland in 1946, Libeskind became an American citizen in 1965. He studied music in Israel (on an America-Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship) and in New York, becoming a virtuoso performer. He left music to study architecture, receiving his professional architectural degree in 1970 from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. He received a postgraduate degree in History and Theory of Architecture at the School of Comparative Studies at Essex University (UK) in 1972.
In 1989, Libeskind won the competition for the Jewish Museum Berlin, which opened to the public in September 2001 to wide public acclaim. The city museum of Osnabrück, Germany, The Felix Nussbaum Haus, opened in July 1998. In July 2002, the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, England, opened to the public. Atelier Weil, a private atelier/gallery, opened in Mallorca, Spain, in September 2003. The Graduate Student Centre at the London Metropolitan University opened in March 2004, and the Danish Jewish Museum opened in Copenhagen in June 2004. Tangent, an office tower for the Hyundai Development Corporation, opened in Seoul, Korea, in February 2005; Memoria e Luce, a September 11 memorial, in Padua, Italy opened on September 11, 2005; and the Wohl Centre, Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv, Israel, opened in October 2005. The Frederic C. Hamilton Building, an extension to the Denver Art Museum, alongside the Denver Museum Residences, in Colorado, opened in October 2006, The extension to the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada, opened in June 2007; and the Glass Courtyard, an extension to the Jewish Museum Berlin, which covers the original courtyard, was completed in Fall 2007. In 2008, the Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge, a residential high-rise in Covington, Kentucky, opened in March; the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, California, opened in June; and Westside, the largest shopping and wellness center in Europe, opened in Bern, Switzerland, in October.
Several of Libeskind’s projects are currently under construction, including the Military History Museum in Dresden, Germany; the Grand Canal Performing Arts Centre and Galleria in Dublin, Ireland; City Center, a retail complex, on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada; Zlota 44; a residential high-rise in Warsaw, Poland; the redevelopment of the historic Fiera Milano Fairgrounds in Milan, Italy; Haeundae Udong Hyundai l’Park, a mixed-use development in Busan, South Korea; Reflections, a waterfront, residential development in Keppel Bay, Singapore; Riverstone, a mixed-use project, with heavy emphasis on retail, in Incheon, South Korea; Creative Media Centre in Hong Kong; a grand piano design for Schimmel Piano; and Daniel Libeskind’s first signature series residence. Upon winning the World Trade Center design competition in February 2003, Libeskind was appointed master plan architect for the site in New York City. Memory Foundations is now under construction.
Libeskind has many other projects in design and planning, such as The New Center for Arts and Culture in Boston, Massachusetts; the L Tower and Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, Canada; Editoriale Bresciana Tower in Brescia; and Orestad Downtown Master Site Plan, in Copenhagen, Denmark, which is a five-kilometer development zone; a redevelopment site in Belgrade, Yugoslavia; a building at Leuphana University in Luneburg, a residential high-rise in New York City; two residential towers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; CapeGrace, an extension to Monaco, which includes residential, commercial, office, and public buildings, and a mega-yacht marina, super-deluxe hotel, and museum; Figueroa Tower in Los Angeles, California; Dream Hub Yongsan IBD, the Master Site Plan for the Yongsan International Business District in Seoul, South Korea; and Kö-Bogen, a new office and retail complex for downtown Düsseldorf.
Libeskind has taught and lectured at many universities worldwide. He has held such positions as the Frank O. Gehry Chair at the University of Toronto, Professor at the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe, Germany, the Cret Chair at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Louis Kahn Chair at Yale University. He has received numerous awards, including the 2001 Hiroshima Art Prize – an award given to an artist whose work promotes international understanding and peace, previously never given to an architect. He was awarded the 1999 Deutsche Architekturpreis (German Architecture Prize) for the Jewish Museum Berlin, which also received the 2000 Goethe Medallion for cultural contribution; in 1996 the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Architecture and in the same year the Berlin Cultural Prize; in 1990 a membership in the European Academy of Arts and Letters; in 1997 an Honorary Doctorate from Humboldt Universität, Berlin; in 1999 an Honorary Doctorate from the College of Arts and Humanities, Essex University, England; in 2002 an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh and an Honorary Doctorate from DePaul University, Chicago; and in 2004, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Toronto.
Two of Libeskind’s buildings won RIBA Awards in 2004: the London Metropolitan University Graduate Centre and the Imperial War Museum North, the latter of which was also nominated for the Stirling Prize. Also in 2004, Libeskind was appointed the first Cultural Ambassador for Architecture by the U. S. Department of State, as part of the CultureConnect Program. In 2005, Daniel Libeskind was awarded the Building of the Year Award for the London Metropolitan University by the Royal Fine Arts Commission, as well as the American Architect Award for the Danish Jewish Museum, and the Giants of Design Awards from the Hearst Corporation and House Beautiful. In 2006, the Wohl Centre was awarded the Riba International Award. In 2007, Libeskind was awarded the Trebbia European Award, the Gold Medal for the Architecture at the National Arts Club, the Silver Award for “Large Visitor Attraction of the Year” honoring the Imperial War Museum North, the Second Penn State IAH Medal for Distinguished Contributions to the Public Advancement of Arts and Humanities, the Award of Merit for innovative steel design for the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit at the Residence of the Consul General of Germany. In 2008, Daniel Libeskind was given the Annual Project of the Year Award for the Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge by the Midland Engineering Company; the CNBC Europe and Africa Property Awards in the categories of Architecture, Redevelopment, High-Rise Architecture, and High-Rise Development (ORCO Property Group); the Doctor Scientiarum Honoris Causa awarded by the Technion Honorary Doctoral Ceremony; and the CNBC Americas Property Award for the Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge; and the AIA New York and the Center for Architecture Foundation presented Studio Daniel Libeskind with the President’s Award.
Daniel Libeskind’s work has been exhibited extensively in major museums and galleries around the world and has also been the subject of numerous international publications in many languages. His buildings have appeared on the covers of Time magazine, Newsweek, Architectural Record, and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications. Libeskind’s ideas have influenced a new generation of architects and those interested in the future development of cities and culture. In 2004, Riverhead Books (Penguin) published his memoir, Breaking Ground. The foreign-language editions were published in January–February of 2005, encompassing more than 90 countries. In 2008, The Monacelli Press (Random House) published an extensive survey of his work, Counterpoint, in the form of a conversation with Paul Goldberger.