Friday, October 15, 2004

Daniel Libeskind & 9/11 or the Man Who Wouldn't Go Away

On Wednesday, USA Today published a puff piece on Daniel Libeskind, the designer of the Ground Zero "master plan". It begins breathlessly: "He has been called the world's most watched architect, and Daniel Libeskind is loving almost every minute of it. And no wonder: He's the master planner for the rebuilding of New York's World Trade Center site. In effect, he is the architect of healing and hope, whose vision is supposed to salve the nation's terrible wound."

Oh no, it is not like that. In the first place, it is not like that because Libeskind's "master plan", having been unbuildable to begin with, not surprisingly will not be built. Elements of it are, however, being retained in the more pragmatic site plan that has taken shape since Libeskind's coronation as "master planner" in February 2003. But it is also not like that because far from being suited "to salve the nation's terrible wound," on closer inspection Libeskind's "vision" shows remarkable contempt for America. It is indeed a "vision" that would not be unpleasing to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and their cheerleaders and fellow-travelers around the world. After all, the center-piece of Libeskind's original proposal was precisely to leave "the nation's terrible wound" open: to leave, namely, the crater formed by tha attacks where the old World Trade Center had once stood. The contempt becomes clearer if one considers Daniel Libeskind's earlier career as "star architect" in Germany and the twisted parallelism between his Jewish Museum building in Berlin and his WTC "master plan".

Sound like the beginning of another interminable post? Not necessary. I've already written all about it in the June/July issue of Policy Review magazine. You can check it out here.

BTW, the USA Today article mentions that the US State Department has appointed Libeskind "its first U.S. cultural ambassador for architecture." Whatever that is supposed to be, I think you will agree after reading my article in Policy Review that this is a scandal and gives further cause to wonder what the heck is going on in the State Department.