Daniel Libeskind is at the ‘Edge of Order’

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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.

Libeskind shows his addition to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (2007). Photo credit: Sandra Colbert

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.

One of Libeskind’s first projects was an Osnabrück, Germany museum for the artist Felix Nussbaum, who was killed at Auschwitz. His self-portrait is shown here.  Photo credit: Sandra Colbert

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.

Daniel Libeskind talks about chapters in his new book “Edge of Order,” at Modernism Week. Photo credit: Sandra Colbert.