After years teaching and designing on paper, architect Daniel Libeskind built his first building at age 53. It was an instant game-changer: the Jewish Museum Berlin. Since then he has gone on to build numerous structures, including several more Holocaust monuments and memorials: the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, England; the Military History Museum in Dresden; and the masterplan for the World Trade Center site in the aftermath of 9/11. He has also designed private houses, art museums, and he is now focusing on affordable housing.
Now he’s published a new book, called “Edge of Order.” Before a large crowd at Modernism Week in Palm Springs, Libeskind said the name was inspired by the French philosopher Paul Valéry, “who said ‘that two dangers constantly threaten the world: order and disorder.’” For Libeskind, architecture — which, in his case, often slashes through a site with narrow spaces, jarring intersections, and sharp angles — offers a means to navigate “between authoritarianism and chaos.”
For someone who spends a lot of time and intellect giving shape to collective trauma, Libeskind is a bubbly, optimistic and entertaining soul.
While his book is part-memoir and part-overview of his work, it’s also a cheerful, highly readable call to readers to tap into their inner architect.
As he tells DnA’s Frances Anderton, “Everybody's creative and architecture appears to be something untouchable… but I think that in the future, everybody will be an architect because we have new technologies where people can also be [a] participant in creating something, not just observing it.”
He also shares fascinating insights, like “why an architect needs to be like a camel in the desert” and the importance of not working for dictators.