EDGE OF ORDER by Daniel Libeskind with Tim McKeough
As one of the foremost architects of our time, Daniel Libeskind has spent his career challenging both the constraints of corporate architecture and the conventions of academia. With a decades-long history of provocative designs, he is now known globally for such landmarks as the Jewish Museum Berlin and the World Trade Center Master Plan, among more than forty projects completed and another forty-five in progress. His latest project, brilliantly reflective of his guiding philosophies, is EDGE OF ORDER (on sale 11/27).
Born to Holocaust survivors in a homeless shelter in Lodz, Poland, Libeskind moved with his family to Israel when he was eleven. His first artistic love was not architecture but music, in which he distinguished himself in more than one way. Competing for a prestigious scholarship at the age of thirteen against children playing traditional orchestral instruments, Libeskind played Bach on his scarlet-red accordion. He and fellow competitor Izthak Perlman were that year’s winners. “The experience provided an enduring lesson,” says Libeskind. “Sometimes, ideas that seem outrageous, perhaps even impossible, can triumph over ones validated by tradition.”
The Libeskinds moved to the Bronx, New York, later that year, and drawing became his obsession. He planned to study art at Cooper Union, but switched to architecture when his mother insisted he pursue something more practical. As soon as classes began, he knew he had found his calling. The rounded corners of his family’s kitchen table made tracing straight lines and right angles difficult—but that only allowed his designs to bend more rules.
In a profession that can often seem elitist, Libeskind feels strongly that with an open mind, every individual is not only capable of understanding architecture, but also designing it. In EDGE OF ORDER, he draws on his own journey to open the door to his creative process and his methods for discovering new directions in his work. With this remarkable marriage of text and design, rich with sketches, notes, plans, and photographs, Libeskind shares the stories behind, and inspiration for, a selection of his projects—among them the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, Canada; a high-rise residential development in Singapore; the Ogden Center for Fundamental Physics in Durham, England; and the extension to the Denver Art Museum.
“This process is not always neat and tidy, or linear,” he says. “Sometimes the components fall neatly in order, one after another; other times they’re all in play at once. But describing them as a sequence provides a framework for my ideas, and a path forward.” In chapters titled Memory; Site; Sketch; Idea; Method; Strategy; and Building, Libeskind walks us through the full life of a design—a journey often touched off by something as seemingly random as a drawing from The Little Prince or the curve of Michelangelo’s Pieta or the shape of a crystal. With a voracious appetite for culture and history, and an encyclopedic memory, he routinely cites everything from Greek mythology to Emily Dickinson to the Marx Brothers in explaining the way he thinks about buildings and cities.
Though Libeskind has spent decades designing boundary-pushing buildings, master plans, and monuments, perhaps his least conventional value is his unwavering hopefulness. “I think that being an optimist is the only way you can work day in, day out, while remaining deeply motivated,” he writes. “If a project budget is cut or a building put on hold, I never see it as the end. I always think, ‘Maybe someday.’” EDGE OF ORDER is a testament to this optimism, meant to encourage creative people in any field to discover new points of inspiration. Far more than a monograph, it is an essential document of Libeskind’s career, a masterful aesthetic collaboration—designed throughout by Rodrigo Corral—and an intimate portrait of art in action.