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An Intimate Conversation With Daniel & Nina Libeskind (3)

2013_Holocaust-Memorial_Sketch(c)DL   work proces

 Holocaust  Memorial – working process

Nina:  I also greet everyone and I also make it a point to speak to everybody in the office every single day, so there’s never a person I don’t say hello to, what are you doing, how are things going. I keep a very close relationship, not only with the senior people but also with everybody in the office.

In terms of Daniel, I’ll say here’s what’s happening today and usually I’ll say what can I do to help you, is there something today that I can work with you on is there something today that I can help you with, whether it’s a PowerPoint or something else.

There are some days where Daniel is dealing with very technical issues which of course I don’t feel qualified about, nor am I qualified, but there are other days where there are presentations, or speeches, or conversations about an approach or a concept, that I feel it easier to involve myself in and I can be engaged in….

Daniel:  She’s very modest. You know I sit on some committees that give Phds in architecture; she already has several of them.

Tsipi:  Funding, money-wise, is it all on your shoulders?

Nina:  Nope, there are three principals in the office who’ve been with us from anywhere from twenty-three years to sixteen years to eighteen years and they’re from Germany, from Florida and from Afghanistan and they’re now all Americans.

No, I would say that I’m called when they can’t. When they’re running into a brick wall, when they’re finding it difficult to get somewhere, which can happens with anybody, whether it’s a doctor, a lawyer, and artist or an architect. They ask me to help with this kind of thing. And that’s the way it works.

VIEW1_NIGHT BRONZE - work in proces

 Holocaust  Memorial – working process

Tsipi:  The one thing that I’m sort of thinking of, is there anything that you would like to recommend to another wife or partner in business with their spouse?

Nina:  No, I would say the only thing which is clear is, that if working together drives you apart then clearly stop it immediately, that there is nothing worse than ruining a marital and loving relationship.

If as in our case, for the most part – which doesn’t mean everything is always perfect in terms of the working relationship – but for the most part our working relationship has made it more fun for both of us. So I think that’s the only advice I would give.

Daniel:  But I have to make a small addendum to that, and the reason for this is that we are complete opposites. We are opposites in everything, in what we say, what we feel, and we are actually opposites astrologically, because she’s November 13th, I’m May 12th.

We’re exactly the opposite and that’s why it works, I think, because we never agree on anything….

Tsipi:  Ok. Let’s talk about the twists and turns in your architectural career. I mean you started the Jewish Museum, then came the big, would you say Freedom Tower was the big break?

Daniel:  No I think it was the Jewish Museum itself, which prepared me for, not just the Freedom Tower, remember I am the master planner of Ground Zero as well. It’s really the entire conception of what to do with the site.

You should remember that all the competing finalists proposed to build large mega structures in the middle of where all the destroyed buildings used to stand.

I started with a totally different premise, that there should be a public space of memory for New Yorkers and for others, and that the new office buildings should be placed beside a new central public social space developed around culture, around the museum, around hopefully, the performing arts center, and so on.

So that was a second challenge because, as I said, the Jewish Museum prepared us because it took twelve years to build that project, and we even lived in Germany for it during that time.

Nina:  We were living in Berlin working on it for twelve years.

Daniel:  And I have to tell you the Jewish Museum opened on September 11, 2001. On the very day that the Jewish Museum opened to the public the 9/11 tragedy occurred. So the museum then immediately closed its doors again a few hours later, for the next several days.

So the two relate both events related emotionally, because when I saw those images and understood what happened I decided at that moment to come back to New York.

There was no competition at that time, there was nothing, I decided to come back. And not just to New York, I wanted to come to lower Manhattan.

Tsipi:  To live here, to identify.

Daniel:  To identify, yeah, to do something…


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