Grand designs with a would-be guru

By Anna Sheinman, June 13, 2013

Dream Builders / Daniel Libeskind / BBC World Service

Daniel Libeskind never intended to be an architect. As a young man, he was an award-winning accordion player and wanted to be a professional musician. And, after hearing him share his thoughts on memory, ethics in architecture and the use of the void, it is quite obvious that despite having designed some of the world's most moving, iconic and high-profile structures, he really should have been a guru.

He muses on the intertwined nature of architecture and memory and his ignorance of the PowerPoint. When he presented his idea for New York’s Ground Zero, it was from the heart. “If you do things from your heart you will not always win but at least you will not lose in terms of what you believe in,” he says.

And when designing the shards and curves of the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, he took a teapot to a second floor window, pondering: “What does a globe look like when it’s broken into pieces?”

Dream Builders covers his childhood in communist Poland, where the Holocaust was “visceral, you could see it in the absence of people on the streets”, and his work on the Jewish Museum in Berlin — the central space of which reflects use of the void. But despite such poignant topics, this excellent programme is soothing listening, given Libeskind’s literary and musical musings. This is reflected in his description of architecture: “It is a musical operation from beginning to end — it is orchestrated.”

Last updated: 1:53pm, August 28 2014