Architect / New York


Meet the renowned architect and master planner of the new World Trade Center. Learn about his design philosophy and passion for watches.

Daniel Libeskind is a Polish American architect born in 1946. His work draws inspiration from music, philosophy, and literature. He founded his architectural studio in Berlin in 1989 and later moved to New York in 2003 after being chosen as the master planner for the World Trade Center redevelopment. His studio has completed a diverse range of buildings, including museums, concert halls, convention centres, university buildings, hotels, shopping centres and residential towers. Not only is he a talented architect, but he also has a passion for watches. A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to sit down with him to discuss his work, inspiration, and love of design. 

photos: Robert Rieger

When did you realize that you wanted to be an architect?

I was considering it when I was going to the Cooper Union in New York School of Science and Art. I will always remember my mother said, “look, if you're an architect, you can always be an artist, but if you're an artist, you cannot be an architect”. 

Do architects get the bandwidth to be artists these days? It strikes me that you aren’t always able to bring your visions to life due to restrictions imposed by local governance or the client’s vision. 

Absolutely right. But that's what makes it great art, that it has all these limitations. 

Where did your passion for design come from?

From within, I genuinely feel that since childhood, I felt compelled to create. I always drew buildings and landscapes, all of which are essential parts of architecture, of course. 


" Inspiration is always unexpected. It always tends to come in moments you haven't planned for."

As you've progressed in your career, has there been someone whom you've looked to as a mentor or whose work you've admired in particular? 

Of course, I had great mentors when I went to college, like John Hejduk, Peter Eisenman and Richard Meier. I have studied and continue to explore the works of all the great masters of architecture. With a degree in history, my passion extends to the Renaissance period and the wonders of ancient Greece and Egypt. I’ve also been inspired by the contribution of Frank Lloyd Wright to modern architecture, and, of course, my great friend Aldo Rossi. So, I've been very fortunate.   

What would you say is your key design principle for someone reviewing your body of work?

I think they would recognize both the complexity within simplicity and the simplicity within complexity. 

Does your eye for design extend into your personal life and the objects you surround yourself with? 

Yes, I'm very fortunate to be surrounded by amazing furniture, ancient books that I collect and all sorts of beautiful items. I’m grateful that I'm able to indulge in life's little luxuries.

What inspires you the most? Is there a particular place that ignites your inspiration?

Inspiration is always unexpected. It always tends to come in moments you haven't planned for. You must be on the lookout for the unexpected; otherwise, you might miss it! 


"I love this watch! It's an amazing one. I mean, I'm addicted to it. It’s brilliant. It’s a watch I instantly connected with."

What's your personal style signifier Daniel?

I have my eyeglass frames, which are often identified with me. I have a few pairs, but I particularly appreciate Ken Okuyama's designs. I very much like Japanese-made designs. 

How do you view legacy and the passing of time?  When designing a building, are you conscious of personal legacy? 

No, no. You must remove yourself from the equation to design something great and true to the task, whether it's a building, a study plan, or an object. You just can’t be thinking about yourself - that's the truth. 

Let's move on to watches. Daniel, what drew you to Ressence? 

Well, in 2017, I purchased a black dial TYPE 1 in London. I searched for one all over the United States and I couldn't find any. So, when I found one in Piccadilly, I was delighted.  What drew me to watch is its unique approach. It's like architecture, a watch is a common object, yet this watch possesses a spirit — a sort of spiritual creativity, uniqueness and individuality. That's how I fell in love with Ressence and that's why I searched for it.  It was my introduction to the brand, and I still wear it today. 

The TYPE 8 is your most recent acquisition, can you tell us more about it? 

I love this watch! It's an amazing one. I mean, I'm addicted to it. It’s brilliant. It’s a watch I instantly connected with. Benoît, the founder and designer at Ressence is an exceptional creative. I love the shade of blue to start with. To me, it is the distillation of the brand design in its purest form. I’m fascinated by its dynamic motion, its curvature and every detail. It is really like a piece of architecture on your wrist. 

What fascinates me is that you can’t see the disks moving immediately. It quite literally takes time. That’s the beauty of select architecture; it has a mystery to it which you may not see immediately. There is something that awakens in the viewer or the user - the sense of wonderment and mystery. It is incredibly comfortable to wear – with its dome like structure. I can instantly tell the time. Its clarity is refreshing, especially when you're tired and travelling and you just need an instant connection to your watch. 

When I showed it to my family and friends, they were amazed. In fact, a lot of people ask about this watch and can’t recommend it enough.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you've got coming up next, personally and professionally? 

Oh, I'm so excited about so much! I'm currently working on a museum in Dubai. I’m also involved with another spectacular project in France, an ancient building in Jerusalem and a whole city plan in Finland. There is also a housing complex for the New York City public housing, which I hope will highlight the idea that affordable housing can also be beautiful. 

Thank you, Daniel.