Renowned architect Daniel Libeskind knows that when we speak about the World Zionist Village, we aren’t talking about buildings. “A building is like a human being – one with a body and a soul. It’s living,” he said to a roomful of lay leaders and architects at JNF House last month. Along with his wife and business partner, Nina Libeskind, the duo discussed the impact of design on the mission of a structure. With questions offered by Jewish National Fund-USA Board Chair Jeffrey E. Levine, Daniel went on to compare sustainability to memory, saying that something built to be disposable — no matter how well built — is not sustainable and it is that aspect of creating something worthy to be kept, of being beloved as a place in which to spend time, that is what’s important and has deep meaning.
Nina was more pragmatic – her word. “We need to create a building that is sustainable, that takes an ecological approach—it must be sensitive to the environment around you,” she said.
Libeskind’s first project was designing the Jewish Museum in Berlin, and he was chosen to design the rebuilding of the World Trade center after 9/11. The couple are now involved in bringing to life the Jewish Museum in Lisbon, Portugal, designed around the concept of hope. “Jews invented hope, tikvah” said Daniel. “It’s how we survived millennia of discrimination.”
As for the World Zionist Village project, one they are very interested in working on, he said: “There is nothing more important than building something that affirms Zionism in Israel. Sure, a community is created by people but first you have to start with a drawing, a plan. It comes down to ‘how do you make a vision come alive in the space itself.’ It requires a lot of thought. It’s a great project.”