Yesterday, on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, Daniel Libeskind spent time on the site of the former Maze prison site in Northern Island to discuss his plans for the construction of the new conflict transformation, or ‘peace centre’ building.
The project is viewed by Libeskind, who oversaw the building of the 9/11 Ground Zero memorial in New York and the Jewish Museum in Berlin, as an opportunity for Northern Ireland to show solidarity and understanding at a time of great political and social uncertainty.
"It's a very interesting site and I think to give life to this site, to bring something really positive, (we can) say we are here Northern Ireland," Mr Libeskind said in an interview with BBC News. "The peace process resonates around the world, whether it's in New York, Europe, it's a very important thing and something that really moves the world forward."
McAdam Design chose to involve Libeskind in the process of redesigning the site, and Martin Hare, project manager, spoke of what drove them to ask him for his help. "There's maybe 10 architects in the world who are recognised instantly by reputation - Daniel's one of them.”
“But even within that small group his reputation within conflict resolution is par excellence and we recognised that by bringing him in here we could deliver something truly memorable for Northern Ireland."
All parties involved in the project are keen for it not to be viewed as a memorial, or reminder of terrorist behaviour in the past or present. "It's about the future, it's not about us being stuck in the past," he said, "We must remember our past, but nonetheless we must look toward the future and the peace building and conflict resolution centre will be doing exactly that.”
"This is going to be something that is iconic, that will be a world first. We have an opportunity here to do something great and special on that site that will take us to the future."
The Maze prison housed paramilitary prisoners during the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland from 1971, a period of ethno-political turmoil, supposedly ending with the Belfast “Good Friday” Agreement of 1998. However, violence still spills over in the present day, something which Libeskind and his team are keen to tackle with their new peace centre.
The prison, where 10 men died in the 1981 republican hunger strikes, closed in 2000. The centre is due to be built on the grounds of the former H-blocks, taking up less than 8% of the 347-acre site.