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Libeskind's Essex University project ditched

The University of Essex has shelved plans by starchitect Daniel Libeskind to design a new international institute for democracy and conflict resolution

The proposed Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (IDCR) was intended to become the ‘anchor’ to a new Knowledge Gateway research park at the university’s Colchester Wivenhoe Campus.

However three years after Libeskind bagged the job, the University has confirmed it has canned the plans for a new £5million building ‘as part of a wider review of the strategy’ for the park.

A spokesman said: ‘The work of the IDCR [now] continues within our Department of Government and our Human Rights Centre. Work has started on the first phase of the Parkside office village on the Knowledge Gateway and discussions with potential tenants are progressing.

‘The IDCR ceased to operate as a separate institute from 31 July 2013. The review and changes follow the appointment of director of the IDCR Professor Todd Landman to the University’s senior management team, as executive dean for the Faculty of Social Sciences.’

Meanwhile Libeskind has insisted his controversial Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Centre on the site of the former Maze prison in Belfast will still be built (see Libeskind’s thoughts are unlikely to win over the Maze Peace Centre sceptics).

Last month Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson told his party members that he was stopping the £18 million project which secured planning permission back in April (see AJ 18.04.2013) .

But Libeskind, speaking to the BBC last week, said he was confident the scheme would go ahead. He said: ‘I’ve seen that pause button in every project. I think that every building [I’ve worked on] had a similar process; initial impetus then: ‘How do we get consensus? How do we bring people together?’

He added: ‘But in every one of those instances the building was able to forge a path towards the future. So I think it will happen. I think that people will understand that it’s not a shrine to terrorism. I have full confidence that it will happen.’

The Polish-born American architect has already built two schemes in the UK: the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2004; and the London Metropolitan University Graduate Centre in Holloway which opened in the same year.

 

Postscript: Daniel Libeskind statement

Studio Daniel Libeskind has enjoyed an entirely collaborative and constructive relationship with the University of Essex, since embarking on the proposed Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution complex in 2010.  The University of Essex has decided to review their strategies for the University’s Knowledge Gateway and we wish them all the best in the restructuring of this inspiring project.

Daniel Libeskind

October 2013

 

Previous story (AJ 12.10.2010)

Libeskind wins landmark Essex University project

The University of Essex has chosen starchitect Daniel Libeskind to design a ‘world-class headquarters’ for a new international institute working towards democracy and conflict resolution around the globe

With a minimum budget of £5 million, the scheme will be Libeskind’s third completed, permanent building in the UK.

The Polish-born American architect has already built the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2004, and the London Metropolitan University Graduate Centre in Holloway which opened in the same year.

The new Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (IDCR) will become the ‘anchor’ to a new Knowledge Gateway research park at the university’s Colchester Wivenhoe Campus, bringing together existing departments.

The university launched the search for an ‘eminent architect’ to build the flagship headquarter back in February through the OJEU process.

The victory marks an unexpected return to the campus for Libeskind who received a Master’s degree in the history and theory of architecture at the University of Essex in the 1970s.

Libeskind said: ‘I consider it an honour to be involved in a project with such visionary humanitarian objectives. I have always believed that democratic openness and conflict resolution is critical not only in the political sphere but in the making of architectural space.’

According to a spokesman, Libeskind and his wife Nina have pledged their support to the University’s fundraising campaign for the institute.

Professor Todd Landman, director of the IDCR, said: ‘The focus of this newly-formed institute will be unique in combining rigorous social scientific research and policy analysis with practical experience and attention to democracy, human rights and justice.

‘We are delighted that Daniel Libeskind has been chosen to design the iconic building we need to expand and develop our embryonic work. The building will evoke a powerful reaction from visitors, while conveying the seriousness and purpose of an international institute.’

The new headquarters building will house accommodation for researchers, training, lectures, seminars and consultancy activities, and will feature a central ‘moot court’, allowing students to take part in simulated court proceedings.

Factfile

Libeskind has completed one other structure in the UK, the temporary Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2001. He also designed the controversial £150 million ‘Spiral’ extension to London’s V&A which was ditched in 2004.

 

Readers' comments (2)

  • The 'Curse of Libeskind' strikes again. (Why do people hire a guy who seems to bring bad karma, delays and cancellations in his wake?) On the plus side, another intellectually pretentious but ultimately meaningless trapezoidal, crystalline shard-fest has been averted. Essex is better off without Libeskind, his ego and his vacuous designs.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • God riddance, Daniel. Don't let the door whack you on the butt as you leave. And take your crappy design drawings with you.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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