Studio Daniel Libeskind

WTC Master Planner Takes Top Award

21 Jun 2011

The author of the design road map for rebuilding the World Trade Center site will receive the highest honor bestowed by the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects Tuesday evening.

Daniel Libeskind, who became an overnight celebrity in the city in 2003 when his proposal for the World Trade Center site, dubbed “Memory Foundations,” was chosen by officials to be the master plan for the rebuilding, will receive the 2011 Medal of Honor at the institute chapter's annual meeting at the Center for Architecture on LaGuardia Place offices.

“We have great respect for his work,” said Rick Bell, executive director of the chapter. “And that's not just because of what's happening at the World Trade Center Site.”

Mr. Libeskind, who has also worked on projects ranging from the Jewish Museum in Berlin to the Denver Art Museum, received his architectural degree from the Cooper Union in the East Village in 1970. He currently lives with his wife in lower Manhattan, where his firm Studio Daniel Libeskind is based at 2 Rector St.

"To receive an award from this talented and accomplished group of architects is a particularly meaningful honor for me," Mr. Libeskind said. "It is always a compliment to be recognized by your peers."

While Mr. Libeskind penned the initial plan for the entire site's rebuilding, the individual buildings have all been designed by others. However, the American Institute of Architects still feels his vision shines through.

“It may not look exactly like the renderings, but the spirit is exactly the same,” Mr. Bell said of the World Trade Center site design, praising the mixed-use development and the integration of public plazas and office space.

The AIANY, which was founded in 1857, is the oldest and largest chapter in the AIA, with more than 5,000 members ranging from practicing architects and other professionals, to students and members of the public interested in architecture and design.

Since 1917, the chapter has awarded is Medal of Honor to a member or firm for their “distinguished work and high professional standing.” Among the earlier recipients are David Childs, who designed 7 World Trade Center and the Time Warner Center, and Louis Skidmore, co-founder of the architecture firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill.

Along with Mr. Libeskind, the New York chapter will also present awards to other members of the architecture community, including Frank J. Sciame Jr., the chief executive of Manhattan-based Sciame Construction, and Frederic Schwartz, a renowned architect who recently designed the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

“Here's our chance, after a bunch years, to provide an accolade to where we felt it has been deserved,” Mr. Bell said, adding that it was “excellent timing” that the award was being given to Mr. Libeskind in the same year as the tenth anniversary of 9/11. “It could have been conferred next year or last, the award would still be as relevant and deserved.”