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Where Art and History come Alive through Rich Symbolic Representations

22 August 2011 No Comment

The prolific architect Daniel Libeskind has a very well defined trademark – he loves to play with geometric forms and his works at times seem to challenge the laws of physics.

Most of his buildings are clad in metal/steel and he quite frequently combines this with stunning glass panels. The result is that his buildings look like huge diamonds and crystals at day or night.

Libeskind is always trying to build as much symbolism into his designs as possible. Therefore, enjoy this beautiful portfolio of 12 designs from a master of architecture who can combine beauty, art, history and symbolism whilst creating impressive edifices all around the world.

1. The Royal Ontario Museum – Ontario, Canada


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This is a world culture and natural history museum, located in Ontario, Canada. The “Crystal” was opened in 2007, and it was designed by Daniel Libeskind. This is the main entrance building to the museum, which features the restaurant, the cafeteria and several museum galleries.

The structure is made of glass and aluminum and the frame is made of steel. Libeskind used the deconstructivist style for the design, where everything seems fragmented and nothing actually follows a traditional norm of shape.

The design of this structure is reminiscent of so many other works of the architect, such as the Frederick C. Hamilton Building (Denver Art Museum), or the Jewish Museum of Berlin.

2. The Contemporary Jewish Museum – San Francisco, California USA

Contemporary Jewish Museum

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The museum was founded as early as 1984, and it is an extremely rich cultural place housing contemporary Jewish works of art & culture and several perspectives on Jewish history in general through photographs or paintings.

The new addition that was constructed on the plans of Libeskind, was ready in 2008. The design of the structure is extremely modern, resembling a dark blue colored cube which is tilted. The material of the structure is stainless steel.

Libeskind managed to create a perfect fusion between new and old, between traditional and contemporary, because the two buildings contrast in beautiful harmony with each other.

3. The Jewish Museum of Berlin – Germany


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This is the first ever project of master architect Daniel Libeskind that became an instant international success. The construction of the museum started in 1989 right after the reunification of Germany, and it was completed in 1999 and opened for public in 2001. The work was acclaimed all over the world by famous architects, artists and by the people who love fine architecture in general.

The structure has a very interesting outline, because the museum can only be accessed through an underground passage. The whole structure seems like a twisted zig zag with many tunnels intersecting and taking visitors from one passage to the other.

The exterior facet of the building is layered with a thin zinc coating, which with time will oxidize and will get that “antique look”. The entire structure of the museum with its intersecting axes acts as a symbolic representation of the Jewish culture in Germany – the connection of the Jewish people with German history and the German people, the forced emigration of the Jewish population and finally, the terrible Holocaust.

4. The Run Run Shaw Creative Media Center – Hong Kong


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This building is part of the City University of Hong Kong, and it is built in a contemporary style featuring many fragmented geometrical structures seemingly placed at random.

The center houses the Center for Media Technology and the Department of Engineering and computational sciences. Based on the plans of Daniel Libeskind, the structure was built by architects from the Leigh & Orange firm.

This is a giant structure made of steel and concrete, and the inside space is designed so as to offer plenty of open spaces which all seem interconnected (laboratories, image and sound studios, exhibition halls, stages, etc.).

5. Imperial War Museum North – Greater Manchester, England


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When asked what exactly he wants to achieve with this composition, Libeskind answered that he wants to create something extraordinary, a structure that will be able to move the soul of whoever views it, to create an “emotional” building.

The building has three portions, each of them representing an important concept: water (the café of the museum which offers visitors an exceptional view of the Manchester Ship Canal), air (55 meters high, the entranceway) and earth (comprises of the exhibition spaces).

The symbolic concept behind the construction of the building is that of a globe which was shattered into pieces, and then rebuilt again in order to become the main icon of conflict in general, with which the Earth struggles on an everyday basis.

The museum opened to the large public in 2002, and in that year alone it received well over 400,000 visitors and counting…

6. The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge – Covington, Kentucky – USA


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This is an amazing residential building designed by Libeskind. The building actually “follows” the flow of the Ohio River and it is placed exactly opposite to Roebling Bridge. Both the river and the bridge have been a great source of inspiration for the architect.

The building houses 70 condominiums, it is 89 meters tall, and it has 22 floors. The building has a wonderful sloped spiral roof, and an overall crescent style design; the entire structure looks very stylish, fresh and out of the ordinary. The construction of the Ascent started in 2005 and was fully completed in 2008.

7. London Metropolitan University Graduate Center – England, UK


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This structure is yet another beautiful example of how perfectly Libeskind can combine shape with art, symbolism and utility. The structure itself resembles many of his earlier works, such as the Nussbaum museum or the Jewish Museum of Berlin. The building is inveigled with stainless steel panels which are colorful which results in a special shining effect.

Depending on the time of the day or night, and how the light reflects on these panels, they constantly change their color. Natural light is fully provided for the inside spaces through the large geometrically cut windows. The structure was completed in 2004, and it has a total surface of 10,000 square feet.

8. MGM Mirage City Center – Las Vegas, USA


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This structure can be found on the main Las Vegas strip and it is a very opulent and expressive structure that impresses everyone who catches a glimpse of it. The structures are home to 2,700 private residences, luxury hotels, a casino and retail spaces.

The project was completed in 2009 and it has received the LEED Gold Core and Shell certification – the MGM Mirage Center is actually the world’s largest facility of its type to achieve such recognition.

The facades of the buildings are clad with metal and the overall design resembles that of a huge rough diamond or a collection of beautiful sharp edged crystals. This project is actually collaboration between 8 world renowned architects, with Daniel Libeskind being a top consultant. The project was entitled “Crystals”.

9. The Wohl Center – Ramat-Gan, Israel


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This is the first Libeskind building to be built in Israel. The design of the building is so particular to the trademark of Libeskind, with the interconnected structures and the random geometrical forms.

The overall cost of the structure was $7.2 million, and the building stretches over 42,000 square feet. The project is a collaboration between the architect and a local firm called “Heder Partnership”.

10. The “Tangent”- the Facade of the Hyundai Corporation Headquarters – Seoul, Korea


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The façade for the Hyundai Corporation headquarters was finished in 2005, and it was a huge success. The concept is extremely interesting, and completely out of the ordinary- the façade is like a playful combination of colors, shapes and light, which makes the giant structure indeed unique.

The diameter of the ring that you can see in the pictures is 62 meters, and there is also a vector-style structure that seems to “cut through” the building like a giant knife. The role of this vector is to connect the building to the public plaza and all the spaces below.

This diagonal “vector” gives the entire structure another perspective and a truly unique design that one cannot meet anywhere else. The area of the façade is 13,200 square feet and it is made of a combination of glass and aluminum. The project was commissioned in 2003, and 2 years later it was proudly presented to the citizens of Seoul.

11. Danish Jewish Museum – Copenhagen, Denmark


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This is an extremely beautiful establishment, a Jewish history museum in the heart of Copenhagen. The museum was completed as early as 2003 and was opened to the larger public in 2004. The spaces are interconnected wonderfully with pedestrian walkways and nice little courtyards.

The outdoor spaces magically attract people to stay together and discover the beauties that await them on the inside. There are several pedestrian walks, outdoor cafes, conversation spaces, where visitors can connect with each other. The project was completed in 2003.

12. The Felix Nussbaum Haus – Osnabruck, Germany


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This exhibition centre is actually the first ever project of Daniel Libeskind, built between 1995 and 1998. At a closer look one can immediately notice the similarities in lines and tone with the Jewish Museum of Berlin structure.

This exhibition centre is dedicated to the works of art of German- Jewish painter Felix Nussbaum who was a prolific artist, killed in a concentration camp. The design of the building consists of three harshly intersecting sections with the result being that the interior looks like a mystic labyrinth. Actually, whoever walks within the building, will come to dead ends several times, in an attempt to go from one passage to the other.

Inside, one can find narrow tunnels and weak lighting, all of these contributing to an overall obscure feeling. This effect is done on purpose so as to highlight such concepts as incomprehension, oppression and identity loss. 3 different materials were used for the 3 constituent buildings: oak, metal and concrete.

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