Michael Hammond, Editor in Chief at WAN, said: "Our goal with the series is to use an intense, one on one interview process rather than the formal lecture approach commonly used in such events, to expose the inner architect".
The evening did not disappoint.
London’s Royal Geographical Society was chosen as a venue in an effort to promote the intimacy of this event. Steeped in history, the grand building provided an elegant backdrop for the evening. As the vibrant mixture of students, architects and intellectuals filed into the auditorium, the air was abuzz with the anticipation of listening to the controversial Libeskind being gently unpicked by the widely revered, Peter Murray.
Murray’s outstanding knowledge of the subject matter immediately set an extremely high benchmark for the evening and had the audience riveted from the outset. No stone was left unturned and Libeskind responded in quick, classic style when pressed, discussing such thorny issues as litigation at Ground Zero and driving wedges through military museums in Dresden. No-one was safe once the fireworks started and the quote of the evening was probably the reference to Rafael Viñoly who, when caught by a camera playing piano after losing the WTC project was said to be, “filling the void in his career with music…”
Most agreed that placing Murray with Libeskind made the perfect combination.
Another measure of success of the evening was the thunderous applause at its conclusion, followed quickly by the crush (is this a London thing?) for copies of Libeskind’s book, CounterPoint. Fights even broke out over the last few copies.
Catching feedback from the bar afterwards we soon noted a common thread from visitors. Many said their perceptions of the iconic architect had shifted during the evening, some noting that they now understand Libeskind better as a person rather than just as an architect, and how this new understanding had altered their appreciation of his work.
Hugh Merrell of Merrell Publishers Limited, said: "I was very keen to attend the Libeskind event because my exposure to his buildings has been limited to seeing the Imperial War Museum North and following the furore that surrounded the V&A Spiral. I have, of course, seen photographs of the Jewish Museum, Berlin, and the Denver Museum but, as we all know, photographs only ever go a certain way to explain a building. To be honest, I have not particularly liked his buildings and so I came to the event very much as a sceptic. However, I was so taken by his rampant enthusiasm for content and culture that I came away as something of a convert. I very much now consider him to be an historicist."
The question on everyone's lips at the end of of the evening was simply, "who's next?"
Icons of Architecture is now available to watch on video, via computer or iphone. CLICK HERE TO VIEW. We hope you enjoy it and look forward to hearing your comments.