Perfect Complement to a Grand Design
By EDWARD WYATT
Daniel Libeskind has already secured what has been called "the commission of the century." He has the plans, the contracts to carry them out and the backing of important patrons, from Gov. George E. Pataki on down.
And now, Mr. Libeskind has one more thing that could help him make his vision for the World Trade Center site a reality: an architect's license.
Last week, Mr. Libeskind passed the national architecture licensing exam, one of the requirements for being a registered, licensed architect in New York State. As a result, he can legally prepare blueprints for and oversee construction of anything from a kitchen renovation to a 1,776-foot tower.
"I'm a New Yorker, and I'm a New York architect," he said in an interview yesterday. "I started my architectural education here at Cooper Union, and now I've come full circle. That was very important, that I do everything possible to be properly accredited by all the authorities."
Though it might seem odd that the winner of the design competition for the site was not a licensed architect, people in the profession say it is fairly common for high-profile architects to be unlicensed.
"The world's great buildings are done by great designers, not by people with licenses," said Alexander Garvin, who was the vice president for planning, design and development at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation during the design competition. An adjunct professor at the Yale School of Architecture, Mr. Garvin is not licensed.
Neither was Minoru Yamasaki, who designed the original World Trade Center, including the twin towers. Mr. Yamasaki employed the architecture firm of Emery Roth & Sons to produce the development's detailed construction drawings.
The defenders of the licensing requirement include the authorities at the American Institute of Architects and the New York State Department of Education, which licenses more than 14,000 architects — as well as doctors, nurses, acupuncturists and shorthand reporters.
Mr. Libeskind qualified for his license based on his design and building experience overseas, where he holds several professional licenses. For his New York examination, he was required to present and discuss drawings and related materials for three completed buildings that he designed. He chose the Jewish Museum in Berlin; the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, England, and the Felix Nussbaum Museum in Osnabrück, Germany.
"What I brought to the exam were technical materials," he said. "They were not just pretty pictures of buildings. At our studio, we've done all the working drawings for our buildings ourselves. I'm a great believer in not farming out those responsibilities to another office."