In this interview with Daniel Libeskind, originally featured on Metropolis as Q&A: Daniel Libeskind on Italy, Product Design, and the State of Architecture Today, Paul Clemence talks to Libeskind about his perspective on Italian culture, its influence on his career, and his most recent foray into product design.
When you talk to Daniel Libeskind, no single question has a simple answer. From his days as a young musical prodigy (he played the accordion) to his directorship at Cranbrook Academy, not to mention his voracious passion for literature, the fascinating episodes of his life all come together, informing his approach to design and architecture. His career path is an unusual one. And while that is true for many architects, his is particularly interesting, where each twist and turn, no matter how ostensibly disconnected, seem to have always prepared him for his next step. Take his two highest profile jobs, the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the master plan for Ground Zero. The two are intrinsically linked—the museum’s official opening to the public in 2001 was originally scheduled on September 11. The project had taken 13 years of political maneuvering to realize. Similarly, Libeskind’s World Trade Center site master plan was marred by a decade of delays and alterations, which threatened to blot out his original design intentions. One monumental task after the other, eerily similar in challenging circumstances, both offering the architect a rare opportunity to helm projects richly entrenched in emotion, symbolism, and historical significance.
Now as his career moves beyond these two important projects, the architect’s connection to Italy is beginning to play a pivotal role in his work. He moved there after his time at Cranbrook, when he was looking for new career challenges. Libeskind has been back in America since he was commissioned the Ground Zero project, but he recently opened up a studio in Milan, where he, his wife, and son oversee the firm’s forays in product design.
I caught up with Libeskind at his Lower Manhattan office overlooking Ground Zero to talk about Italy and his involvement in upcoming design fairs there, Milan Design Week and the Venice Architecture Biennale.
UPDATE: Foster + Partners have been granted planning permission for The Chirstie. The new Centre is due to open in 2016.
Norman Foster has applied for planning permission for a new Maggie’s Cancer Centre in his hometown of Manchester. Planned to be built at The Christie, one of Europe’s leading cancer centres and the largest single-site centre in Europe, the new Centre intends to “provide free practical, emotional and social support for anyone living with cancer as well as their family and friends.”
“I believe in the power of architecture to lift the spirits and help in the process of therapy,” Foster explains. “Within the Centre, there is a variety of spaces – visitors can gather around a big kitchen table, find a peaceful place to think or they can work with their hands in the greenhouse. Throughout, there is a focus on natural light and contact with the gardens. The timber frame, with its planted lattice helps to dissolve the architecture into the surrounding greenery.”
In Eastern Europe the assimilation of modernism proved a rather divergent process, correlated with tumultuous and contradictory socio-political events. The urban space suffered successive destructuring, caused by massive industrial insertions with direct impact at urban and demographic level.
Thus the Romanian Pavilion’s exhibition for the 2014 Venice Biennale, Site Under Construction will bring industrial architecture as generator of modernity into discussion. It suggests creating an initiatory journey from inter-war and socialist industrialization to post-industrial urban voids. Glory and void, past and present are mirrored and laid out to be contemplated, to raise awareness and be re-approached. Once industrial sites were closed down, the remaining locations became modern urban ruins, devoid of content, bare of utility, leaving behind an outer landscape, shattering and desolate.
Three teams have been chosen to advance in the third and final round of a competition to masterplan the new International Financial Center (IFC) in “New Moscow.” Once complete, the 460 hectare mixed-use development will add offices, housing and hotels, as well as commercial and social infrastructure to the area of Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye. The finalists are…
Remember Innovation Imperative‘s modular alternative to the “cuboid office?” Shortly after featuring it on ArchDaily interest for the innovative building system grew exponentially; you can now purchase your very own tetra shed® for $25,000 (price subject to decrease, contingent on demand). Each unit is customizable, expandable, fully insulated, and easily tailored to suit your climatic needs. Measuring at about 10 square meters, the units can be transformed into a garden office, spare bedroom, or even combined and stacked to create studio homes and boutique hotels. Continue after the break to learn more about the capabilities of the tetra shed®.
This week marked the 53rd edition of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan. Hundreds of exhibitors showcased an endless display of the latest international design products and home-furnishings. Among them included a variety of designed items envisioned by some of our favorite architects. Continue after the break to preview some of the most talked about architect-designed products featured this week at the Milan Design Week 2014.
U.S. architect Robert Hull, FAIA, has passed away at 68 due to a stroke. Always to remembered by his peers as a “beloved colleague,” the Seattle-based practitioner, together with his business partner David Miller, was a national leader of sustainable design and architecture in the Pacific Northwest. You can review some of Hull’s work here and read The Miller Hull Partnership’s official obituary, after the break.
HENN has been selected to design a 160-meter, mixed-use tower for a new Central Business District in the eastern China metropolis of Wenzhou. Located in close proximity to the Ou Jiang river, on the district’s southern edge, the Wenzhou Tower hopes to serve as the gateway to the new city development.
Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers are among seven international practices listed to compete for a 5,000 hectare expansion that hopes to “alleviate severe congestion” at the Mexico City airport. With each team led by Mexican firms, the shortlisted architects, which also include SOM, Gensler, Pascall+Watson and Teodoro González de León with Taller de Arquitectura X, have been asked to envision a 70-gate, phased expansion capable of hosting 40-million passengers per year. A schematic masterplan has been provided by Arup. Completion of the first phases is tentatively planned for 2018.
First an Emerging Voices recipient, now a laureate of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s (RAIC) Emerging Architectural Practice Award; Toronto’s Williamson Chong Architects has proved themselves to be one of Northern America’s most promising firms. Founded just three short years ago, the seven-person practice has been chosen to be the RAIC’s second Emerging Practice Award recipient for “consistently producing innovating projects that contain quality detailing and craftsmanship.”
Herzog & de Meuron and Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects have been announced as winners of an international competition to design one of Denmark’s largest hospitals: Nyt Hospital Nordsjælland. Selected ahead of six other practices, including BIG and C.F. Møller, Herzog & de Meuron’s nature-inspired proposal will provide the New North Zealand Hospital with a 124,000 square meter facility that serves 24 medical departments and provides over 660 beds.
“The hospital organically reaches out into the wide landscape. Simultaneously its soft, flowing form binds the many components of the hospital,” described the architects. “It is a low building that fosters exchange between staff and patients, and it has a human scale despite its very large size.”
As we announced earlier, David Chipperfield Architects’ modest proposal for the Nobel Center’s new home in Stockholm has been announced as the winning submission of the Nobel Foundation’s prestigious international competition. Lauded by the jury for its “lightness and openness,” Chipperfield envisioned the glass and stone proposal to “convey dignity” and embody the ideals of the Nobel Prize so it may serve as inspiration for generations to come.
Detailed drawings, images and quotes from the architect, after the break…
MVRDV, in cooperation with the Belgian furniture label Sixinch, have designed a playful furniture series that imagines an antidote to the sprawled, generic urban growth of East Asia’s mega-cities. Each of the 77 large cushions in “Vertical Village” – currently on display at Milan’s Design Week – take the form of small, densely-packed houses, colorful alternatives to the horizontal, block-like residential buildings that currently dot East Asia’s skylines. From the exhibition:
“The Vertical Village – observation of the uncontrolled growth of Asian cities, which has lead to the disappearance of urban villages on a human scale, prompts the designers to develop a livable city model that promotes upward growth: a vertical village composed of small residential nuclei that ensure human relationships and, at the same time, leave room for green areas and gathering places. The installation is composed of 77 large cushions in the form of small houses, all different.”
A recent article from The New York Times confirms something we’ve all long-suspected. A Pritzker translates into big bucks. Demand for Shigeru Ban’s Manhattan buildings has soared since his awarding of the prize. The New York Times reports that page views of the Metal Shutter Houses, for example, have quadrupled on the listings site Streeteasy.com. Why? The Pritzker name carries weight:
“In this second age of high-flying real estate, brand-name architecture and globe-trotting wealth, the identity of a designer has taken on ever-increasing value to ensure that a project’s multimillion-dollar homes stand out. Anyone can install waterfall showers and Wolf ranges. A Pritzker is harder to come by.”
“Though Mr. Ban’s Pritzker could make it costlier to hire him in the future, some developers find a laureate worth the expense. ‘You can save a lot on plans, because you only have to change 10 percent of the project, instead of 90 percent; the vision is just so complete,’ the developer Aby Rosen said. ‘And you also save a ton on the marketing. People want to write about these Pritzker projects, and an article is way better than an ad.’”
But what does it mean when architecture – particularly the architecture of a socially-conscious designer like Ban – becomes a brand-name item? As Laura Ilonemi writes, “the Pritzker Prize begins to perpetuate an environment that is unhealthy to architecture: too strong a divide is created between winners and non-winners of the same calibre. [...] Sought-after commissions, and other opportunities perhaps better suited to other candidates, may well go to Pritzker Prize winners, helping to reinforce the trend of ‘designer buildings’ in much the same vein as designer label consumer goods and products. ”
As one real estate agent, representing a resident of the Metal Shutter Houses, put it: “It’s like buying an Hermès bag but better.” Is, in the end, the Pritzker nothing more than a branding tool? Should it be more? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
David Chipperfield Architects has won the prestigious competition to design Stockholm’s new Nobel Centre in the Blasieholmsudden peninsula. The firm’s proposal – named Nobelhuset - beat out those by Swedish shortlisters Wingårdhs Arkitektkontor and Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor; the three had been selected from 12 high-profile entries (including the likes of BIG, OMA, and SANAA) in November of last year.
The jury unanimously chose Chipperfield’s design for the new headquarters, which will include exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, a library, restaurant, shop and a large auditorium where the annual Nobel Prize award ceremony will take place. Jury chair and Nobel Foundation executive director Lars Heikensten noted: “The jury finds the lightness and openness of the building very appealing and consistent with the Nobel Foundation’s explicit ambition to create an open and welcoming Centre for the general public.”
The Centre is planned to open in 2018. More images of Chipperfield’s winning proposal here.
Our friends at Mecanoo have shared a fascinating mini-documentary exploring the complex brickwork on display in their latest project in Boston’s Dudley Square, the Dudley Municipal Center(nearing completion). Called “Boston Bricks with a Dutch Touch,” this documentary features interviews with everyone involved in the project – from construction workers to architects – and focuses on the difficulty of using brick in this elaborate manner. Enjoy the video above and check out some fantastic images after the break.