Daniel Libeskind is another American immigrant success story, one of which people never get tired of hearing about. He was born in Lodz, Poland on May 12, 1946. At age eleven his parents, both Holocaust survivors, uprooted him and his brother to Israel and later New York. He tells a heartwarming story that we’ve never heard before about setting sail across the Atlantic Ocean on an immigrant boat called the SS Constitution and how he’ll never forget about how he felt seeing Lady Liberty welcoming him to America.
Daniel Libeskind’s life so far has played out like a movie. The opening scene is about an immigrant coming to America looking for opportunity. As a young child Daniel Libeskind learned to play the accordion and even appeared on Polish television. As a teenager he continued to heartily study music.
As Daniel Libeskind entered manhood he discovered his true passion in life: architecture. Putting his blossoming music career aside, he enrolled at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. In 1970 he received his professional architectural degree and in 1972 his postgraduate degree in History and Theory of Architecture from the School of Comparative Studies at Essex University. Richard Meier, the architect, took Libeskind on as an apprentice in 1968. The movie continues.
Most good movies have some sort of love sub-plot intertwined in them. This is the case in Daniel Libeskind’s life. In 1966 he met his bride to be, Nina Lewis. After falling madly in love and getting married they set out on a quirky honeymoon. As they traveled across America, hand in hand they visited Frank Lloyd Wright buildings on a Cooper Union Fellowship. Can’t you just picture tin cans bumping along behind a beat up car with Just Married written across the back window? A perfect and touching scene in any movie.
The plot thickens. In 1989 Daniel Libeskind and his wife were business partners and founded Studio Daniel Libeskind, which is two blocks away from the site of the World Trade Center. His designs were criticized as being “unbuildable or unduly assertive” Now is the climax of the movie where everyone holds their breath. Will he succeed?
Daniel Libeskind caught a break and won the design competition for housing in West Berlin in 1987. When the Berlin Wall fell the project was sadly cancelled. This is where the movie gets suspenseful. What would Daniel Libeskind do now? Daniel Libeskind’s first completed building was the Felix Nussbaum Haus in 1998. He went on to design the Jewish Museum Berlin in, you guessed it, Berlin, Germany. The museum consists of two buildings covering Jewish German history. Daniel Libeskind designed the second building, specifically for the museum.
Daniel Libeskind didn’t stop there. He went on to impress us all by designing and completing an extension of the Denver Art Museum, U.S., the Imperial War Museum North, England, the Bar-Ilan University, Israel, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Grand Canal Theatre, Ireland, and the Reflections at Keppel Bay, Singapore.
As if that wasn’t enough Daniel Libeskind had to show off and take on the world of opera. He has designed sets for the Norwegian National Theatre, created costumes and sets for Luigi Nono, and Deutsche Opera Berlin.
There is a collective sigh of relief as Daniel Libeskind rises to international success and becomes one of the worlds most sought-after architects.
Poor Daniel, how would he handle all this success?
Daniel Libeskind was asked to oversee the master plan for the construction of The World Trade Center Memorial. Little did he know when he first opened his studio that he would be stationed only a few blocks away from what is perhaps one of his most memorable architectural feats to date.
Just when the movie begins to get boring Daniel Libeskind hatches a plot to sue someone over $843,750.00. That poor someone turned out to be Larry Silverstein. Daniel Libeskin claimed to be suing Larry Silverstein over money owed for his services. Uh-huh. We all know Daniel Libeskind sued because Larry Silverstein said he was out and another architect, David Childs was in. How dare he go against the great Daniel Libeskind? They eventually settle out of court for $370,000.00.
Daniel Libeskind drew some criticism over his design of 30 prefab houses while trying to take prefabs to a whole new level. Finally. I mean who does the guy think he is – a world renowned and highly sought after architect? He decided to go green and tried like the little engine that could to make these prefabs distinctive, which he did. Some think he went overboard, hence the criticisms. When Daniel Libeskind decided to take on prefab homes he certainly didn’t keep the average person in mind. Thanks Mr. Libeskind. He completed 30 homes with an average going cost of $2 - 3.5 million.
This is where the movie of Daniel Libeskind’s life ends for now. He went from immigrant to student to successful and world renowned architect. What’s left now, the moon? We’ll be waiting with bated breath for the sequel.