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Daniel Libeskind's book signing of 'Counterpoint'

At a signing of his new book, ‘Counterpoint,’ at New York’s Strand Bookstore, architect Daniel Libeskind got philosophical.

‘I always think, intuitively, viscerally, that a building must have a point,’ he said.   

Of course, Libeskind’s idea of the ‘point’ of his commissions doesn’t always jive with everyone else’s.  He readily acknowledged the heavy fire he’s come under for some of the projects described in the book, such as the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Denver Art Museum.  Later in the evening, Libeskind offered some insight into what might be the crux of his disagreement with his critics: ‘[Architecture] is not a language you can put in words,’ he said.  ‘If you could, you wouldn’t need to build a building.’ 

No need to build buildings except to express something ineffable?  What about to give people places to live, work, and play?  It was a revealing comment – and didn‘t exactly help refute criticisms that Libeskind sacrifices function at the altar of form.

But refuting criticism doesn’t seem to be on Libeskind’s agenda.  ‘My responsibility is not to be the glowing darling of the press,’ he said.  ‘I don’t care about that.’  If anything, rather, Libeskind takes pride in the criticism he attracts.  His reaction, for instance, to complaints that his museum designs induce vertigo?  ‘I say, great!’ he retorted.

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