In The City — 28 February 2015
Architect defends bold vision for Boca Raton

By Eric Barton

Daniel Libeskind is wearing all black. (Except for his cowboy boots, patterned cow skin faded into a fashionable tan patina). His legs are crossed, and he’s sipping a Coke in the lobby of the Waterstone Resort in Boca Raton.

“My next work will be very bold, very dramatic,” he says with a smile. Actually, he always seems to be smiling. “It will transform the skyline of Boca Raton.”

In town late last year, Libeskind is the headliner of a symposium, a talk about the four skyscrapers he has designed for the proposed New Mizner on the Green. The details make the project Boca’s biggest development since maybe Mizner Park: five hundred units; 30 stories; described by the developer as “ultra luxury.”

“Architecture is about creating a new world, a new life for a city,” Libeskind says.

No doubt his work would do just that. For a century, Boca Raton has been Addison Mizner’s city, with the pioneering architect’s Mediterranean style seen in just about everything from grand houses to strip malls. Boca’s design has been arched windows and Spanish tile roofs and color palates never veering far from beige.

Libeskind’s work would change that. Glass buildings would dominate the skyline like four mainsails, straight on one side and gently curving on the other. But it’s not just about the buildings to Libeskind. He talks about the 2-acre park that will also occupy the development. He envisions a project that would seem like it sprouted from the ground.

“What we don’t need is more hardscape, more roads and cars. It’s important for buildings to share space with nature,” he says.

No doubt the plans face opposition from those who don’t want to see this kind of height or massive development. Libeskind’s work would not only be the tallest buildings but a change in direction for Boca – and it’s a position the architect knows well. His projects, like the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the World Trade Center site revitalization, have seen plenty of controversy. He says he’s ready for it here.

“You just can’t build buildings and expect people to understand,” Libeskind says. “You have to communicate why. You have to explain why it looks the way it does.”

He has a quick answer when asked why Boca should allow his vision: “It’s to raise the bar of living. It’s not just for the people who live in the building, it’s for everyone. We are not just living the past but moving forward, and these buildings will show Boca Raton is a city of the future.”

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