Daniel Libeskind: The Space of Encounter

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9780789304964: Daniel Libeskind: The Space of Encounter

For more than twenty years Daniel Libeskind has been regarded as one of the world's leading architectural theoreticians and educators. Since 1973, he has taught at more than forty institutions, maintaining such distinguished positions as head of the Cranbrook Academy of Art's School of Architecture in Bloomfield, Michigan, founder and director of Architecture Intermundium in Milan, Italy, the Sir Bannister Fletcher Architecture Professor at the University of London in London, England, professor at the University of California, Los Angeles' School of Architecture and Urban Planning in Los Angeles, California, and the First Louis Kahn Professorship at Yale University.

Throughout Libeskind's career, his approach to the profession of architecture and the development of the world's built environment has defied convention. He is one of the last heroes of the architecture world's avant-garde. And while he is the recipient of numerous awards and citations for his designs, Libeskind's architectural output has largely consisted of models, drawings, poetry, and ephemera. For years, Studio Libeskind sustained itself as a laboratory for the testing of his boundary-breaking ideas.

In 1989 Libeskind competed for the commission to design what would become the Jewish Museum Berlin. He won. Since then, he relocated his office from Milan to Berlin, was nominated for the Pritzker prize for Architecture, and was commissioned to design the Felix Nussbaum Haus, a museum for the city of Osnabrück, Germany, which opened to critical acclaim in 1998. In 1999, he was awarded the Deutsche Architektur Preis (German Architecture Prize) for his Jewish Museum Berlin, a structure that received over 250,000 visitors before it contained even a single work of art.

Now, because he has been commissioned to design the extension to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England, the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, England, the Jewish Museum in San Francisco, California, the JVC University in Guadalajara, Mexico, and, most recently, the extension to the Denver Art Museum in Denved, Colorado, the world is encountering in built form the riveting design concepts of Daniel Libeskind.

the first book to get inside Libeskind's extraordinary world, The Space of Encounter eschews the traditional monograph format as it tracks the architect's life's work, pulling the reader back to the 1980s and guiding him through an often mesmerizing array of ideas and projects extending into the year 2005. By revealing for the first time in book form his project proposal texts, excerpts from lauded speeches and lectures, interviews conducted with international newspapers and periodicals, in addition to his poems and correspondence, this book captures Libeskind at a major turning point in his career. Here, we learn of Libeskind's experience of being a radical educator to becoming a high profile, convincing and inspiring architect. Complementing his brilliantly insightful textual material are his forceful drawings and full-color images of his project models, finished projects, and projects in progress.

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Review:

In the (anti-)tradition of Rem Koolhaas's and Bruce Mau's S,M,L,XL, this volume is less a photographic tour through the edifices of maverick architect Daniel Libeskind than a fractured, sometimes frustrating and always compelling spin through a giant edifice of ideas. Though he has been a been a leading architectural professor and theoretician for some 20 years (Philip Johnson calls him "Quirky, maddening, but brilliant..."), Libeskind only showed up on the international radar as a practitioner a few years ago when his jarring, norm-busting Jewish Museum Berlin earned him a Pritzker nomination--and such high-profile new commissions as the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, England; the Jewish Museum San Francisco (JMSF); an extension to the Denver Art Museum; and, most sensationally, an addition to London's beloved Victoria and Albert Museum. This last is a giant tiled geometric phenomenon that spirals right up out of the sober nineteenth-century pile's courtyard into the sky. Nicknamed just that--"The Spiral"--it elicited a public furor in which no one in the monument-fetishizing U.K. hasn't had an opinion.

All told, though, Libeskind hasn't had that many commissions, and most of them weren't even completed at the time of the book's production--which perhaps accounts for why this nouveau monograph is really about seventy-five percent text, all of it set in various funky juxtaposed types and comprising a vast selection of Libeskind's speeches, lectures, interviews, project texts, and the like. (Libeskind has also attained considerable recognition for his quasi-experimental architectural models and illustrations, many of which are featured here.) Much of this text (almost all of which, save a few Dadaist forays, is vastly more linear and transparent than Libeskind's fascinating, challenging postindustrial architecture) pertains to his built or in-progress work, photographs or drawings of which are also included here--though never keyed to the same page as the text in which they are discussed. If that seems annoying, it sometimes is--though it's rather clear that Libeskind and the book's editor and designer did it intentionally to disrupt the conventional way we consume an architectural monograph, flipping through from A to Z, oohing and aahing over the color-soaked pictures, and grazing over their pert corresponding captions.

If you try to experience The Space of Encounter in that fashion, you'll get frustrated. Better to approach it the way Libeskind apparently wants people to experience his architecture--from many points in time, space, and human experience, in seemingly random, dissociated bits and pieces. Just like his signature windows, which look as though they were blasted onto walls by a not-very-good shot with a futuristic laser gun, they will, once you get close enough, afford a dazzling, if not wholly unified, vista out onto a new world of forms, language, and ideas. --Timothy Murphy

About the Author:

Daniel Libeskind is an architect currently based in Berlin, Germany. He is the Cret Chair at the University of Pennsylvania and a professor at the Hochshule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe, Germany.

Jeffrey Kipnis is the Curator of Architecture at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio University.

Anthony Vidler is both the Chair of the Department of Art History and Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Los Angeles

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