Holocaust monument architect Peter Eisenman turns 90

Architect Peter Eisenman. Photo of IMAGO / agefotostock

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He is one of the international stars of architects. Peter Eisenman is now 90 years old. In this country, a man in a black sweater is associated primarily with a building in the center of Berlin.

author: Leticia Witte

Peter Eisenman and the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin: In Germany, the American architect is associated primarily with this sensational field of steles. This is probably due to the fact that the monument was hotly debated many times before and after its erection. Eisenman is a world-famous architect, architecture theorist, he has lectured at various universities and has received many prestigious awards. He will be 90 on August 11.

Eisenman was born in 1932 in Newark, New Jersey. The son of Jewish parents studied at several universities. In 1967 he founded the “Institute of Architecture and Town Planning” in New York, which he headed until the early 1980s and which dealt with architecture and town planning. Like architects Richard Meier and Michael Graves, Eisenman was part of the New York Five group and held teaching positions at various universities. Eisenman Architects also has its address in New York.

Eisenman is considered, inter alia, as a representative of deconstructivism in architecture – such as Frank O. Gehry with his Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein or Daniel Libeskind from the Jewish Museum in Berlin. In connection with this architectural trend, Eisenman was also interested in the philosophical concepts of Jacques Derrida, with whom he exchanged views. Eisenman’s buildings are well known, such as the Wexner Art Center in Columbus, consecutively numbered houses in different locations, and his designs for the City of Culture in Galicia.

And the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which opened in May 2005 in the heart of Berlin. The Foundation of the same name sees it as the central Holocaust memorial in Germany, commemorating the approximately six million Jewish victims of the Shoah. On an uneven surface of 19,073 m2, there are 2,710 concrete poles of various sizes, which when viewed from a bird’s eye view create an image of an undulating field. There is also an information center on the persecution and extermination of European Jews during the Nazi era. Eisenman hadn’t originally intended this place.

General view of the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. Picture of IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

In an online interview with Spiegel at the opening of the monument, Eisenman said of the result of his many years of work: “I think it’s a bit too aesthetic. It looks a little too good. Not that I wanted something ugly, but I didn’t want anything that looked like design. I wanted what is ordinary, banal. ” In the course of his work, he was also severely criticized for one or the other statement. He said, “I’m an American and I don’t understand the local sensibilities or the humor that prevails here. Sometimes it was hard to get it all fairly.

The monument is for the “Germans,” said Eisenman. “It is a great gesture from the Germans that they have placed something in the center of their city that reminds them – perhaps reminds – of the past.” It’s not about guilt. And: “This is not a holy place.” To the people of that country, Eisenman advised, “Stop trying to make me feel good. If you are anti-Semitic, fine. If you don’t like me personally, fine. But treat me as a separate person and not as a Jew. “

Not far from the monument is another Berlin Eisenman building, which can often be seen wearing a black sweater or bow tie: the house at the former Checkpoint Charlie. If you go a little further, you will find yourself in front of the Jewish Museum with the new Libeskind building, whose exhibitions show Jewish life, but also remind you of the Holocaust. You can get confused at times in this architecture, making you feel a bit dizzy – very much like walking around the Eisenman Holocaust Memorial.

KNA / lwi / pko

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