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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 February, 2003, 13:20 GMT
Daniel Libeskind: Visionary architect
Libeskind is known for his avant-garde designs

Describing himself as possessing an "abhorrence towards conventional architecture", Daniel Libeskind is responsible for some of the world's most provocative and distinctive buildings.

Recent works - Jewish Museums in San Francisco and Berlin, and the Imperial War Museum in Manchester in Britain - draw on themes such as war, Jewish heritage and the Holocaust, which have shaped his life.

But while Libeskind's designs have long been praised for their emotional resonance and stirred debate among critics, it is only in recent years that any of them have progressed from vision to reality.

Today he is one of the world's most in-demand architects.

Born to Holocaust-survivor parents in Lodz in Poland in 1946, Libeskind emigrated to Israel in 1957 before moving to the United States in 1959. He became an American citizen in 1965.

Settling in New York, the teenage Daniel Libeskind initially pursued an interest in music, receiving an exchange scholarship to study in Israel.

From vision to reality

He became a virtuoso pianist before turning his back on his burgeoning career and enrolling on a degree course in architecture at the Cooper Union in Manhattan.

Graduating in 1970, he consolidated his skills with a postgraduate degree in History and Theory of Architecture from Essex University in Britain two years later.

Daniel Libeskind's proposal for the World Trade Centre site
Libeskind's design will be subject to commercial pressures

In 1978 Libeskind was appointed lecturer at Cranbrook Academy of Art, and over the next decade progressed to teach at Harvard and UCLA in Los Angeles, lecturing on architectural theory.

Although subject of numerous exhibitions across Europe and worldwide debate, it was not until 1998 that his first actual building, a museum dedicated to Jewish artist Felix Nussbaum, opened in Osnabruck, Germany.

In 1999 his first high profile work - the Jewish museum in Berlin - opened after 10 years construction, followed in 2002 by the Imperial War Museum in Manchester.

Libeskind is also known for "The Spiral", a controversial design for an extension to the Victoria and Albert museum in London.

Married, with three children, Libeskind lives and works in Berlin and divides his time between designing and lecturing around the world.

He is also an outspoken critic of other architects, and recently became embroiled in an argument with the rival THINK team after describing their name "Orwellian" and their design for the World Trade Center site as "two skeletons in the sky."

The BBC's Emma Simpson reports from New York
"Money and commercial considerations may determine what is built"

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