Television

Architect Daniel Libeskind to be featured on CNN's show 'Revealed'

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MUMBAI: Five years on from the 9/11 events, the man charged with rebuilding Ground Zero is Revealed on CNN this month. Viewers join architect Daniel Libeskind on a fascinating journey from the pit where the towers once stood to the Rocky Mountains and the opening of his first US building. The show airs on 11 November at 6 pm, 12 November at 2 pm and 8 pm and on 13 November at 8 pm

For Libeskind, a Polish immigrant whose parents survived oppression by both the Nazis and the Soviets, the rewards are poignant. As a child, he had arrived by boat into New York and "looked at that skyline...I could not believe that human beings could build such a thing". He now finds himself responsible for the city's rebirth in the aftermath of atrocity.

In his formative years, Libeskind was an artist, seldom without a pencil in his hand. His mother, however, steered him away from his love of drawing and art, and towards the career which became his life. "She told me, ‘You know you should have profession, something that is responsible. Be an architect because you can always be an artist in architecture but you cannot be an architect in art. And in that sense, you can catch two fish with one hook.'"

Yet Libeskind was 55 years old before his first building was completed - and an incredible building it turned out to be. The Jewish Museum in Berlin established Libeskind's outrageous, jagged style, making use of light and dark to stir the emotions of visitors. On the day it opened, two hi-jacked planes crashed into the World Trade Centre and the two events became inextricably linked in his life.

Libeskind's involvement with the World Trade Center project, including the tallest building at the site, the Freedom Tower, has made him the focus of global media attention. His name is now spoken in the same breath as other celebrated architects such as Gehry, Foster and Rogers.

Despite being one of today's leading contemporary architects, however, his first American building is only now being opened, and it's not in New York - the honour goes to Denver, a city nestled between the Colorado Desert and the Rocky Mountains. The inspiration for the building came through a glimpse of the mountains gained as he first flew into Denver:

That unprecedented space became the Denver Art Museum's breathtaking new building, and REVEALED follows Libeskind during the countdown to its opening. This incredible building sits like an alien craft amid the civic grandeur of the mile-high city's downtown; docked at an angle on a vacant plot of land, its hull shimmers in the sun, the titanium surface reflecting the colours around it, silver and ochre fading into a brackish brown. The stern of the ship is a jumble of metal boxes, stacked any which way, with its prow looming over the adjoining road.

Having won the architectural competition to design the building in 2000, REVEALED is with Libeskind at the culmination of six years planning and construction, as he attends a pre-opening party sporting a titanium jacket specially created for the occasion. The following day is the museum's opening, and a phenomenal 33,000 people line up around the block day and night. Libeskind stands inside, signing autographs, beaming, enthralled by the completion of the project: "It just shows that even with an adventurous building, a building that has unprecedented challenges, that's what architecture should be, on time and on budget."

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