World renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, whose portfolio includes the masterplan of the restructured World Trade Center in New York and the Jewish Museum in Berlin, was full of praise for Liverpool on a high-profile visit to the city.
Libeskind delivered a public lecture at Liverpool John Moores University on Friday, talking of the city’s history and its effect on the modern world.
The 69-year-old gave the talk, being held in support of Red Cross for Syrian Children, and the Talia Trust for Children, to a packed theatre hall, discussing his best known projects, the inspiration behind them, and also the latest developments from his studio.
Libeskind, talking to JMU Journalism before the charity lecture, said: “Liverpool is one of the great centres of civilisation because of the industrial revolution. Everything to do with the development from the 19th Century, into the 20th Century, and now into the 21st came from cities like Liverpool.
“Karl Marx and [Friedrich] Engels studied Manchester and Liverpool and the ethic of work; how people survived in a capitalist economy.
Video report by Eleanor Davies & Jess Jones, JMU Journalism TV
“These are cities that have great heritage, not just in terms of the obvious incredible buildings, like the cathedral in Liverpool, but have a lot to do with the growth of consciousness, about what urbanism is and what cities really are, and in that sense it’s one of the most iconic cities in the world.”
Polish-born Libeskind, who moved to New York with his family in 1959 on one of the last immigrant boats to the United States, talked about the reason for his support of charities such as the Red Cross.
He told JMU Journalism: “I’ve been a refugee, I’ve been an immigrant several times in my life. I understand the life of refugees and immigrants – not from reading books, or looking at pictures and the television. It’s a hard life. We have to understand the humanity that is necessary for the survival of the world. It’s not a choice, and it’s not about politics.”
In 2003, Libeskind won the competition to be the masterplan architect for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.
Whilst works still continue on the site, he spoke of the pressure to deliver projects that hold sentiment for such a great number of people: “Of course there is always pressure, but you have to do what you believe in.
“Building something like [the World Trade Center New York], whether it’s a museum that incarnates memory and historical events, tragedies, but also hope – such a thing must have spirit.
“Without it, it’s just a bunch of walls, materials, and it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s not about size, it’s not about numbers, it’s more about what it communicates.”