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Libeskind's 'eagle' aims to lift Poland

updated 2:44 AM EDT, Wed September 14, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Architect Daniel Libeskind's new building transforming Warsaw
  • Residential high-rise is Polish-born American's first project in Poland
  • Under construction opposite communist-era Palace of Culture
  • Some hope that it will be symbolic of Poland's revival

(CNN) -- A monument to communism, the Palace of Culture and Science dominates Warsaw's skyline.

But soon the city's most prominent piece of architecture, a "gift" from Josef Stalin in the 1950s, will be joined by a building that will reflect the spirit of 21st century Poland.

Designed by Daniel Libeskind, Zlota 44 is the star architect's first project in the country of his birth.

Currently under construction the 54-story luxury apartment building that is supposed to resemble an eagle, Poland's nation symbol, is situated opposite the Palace of Culture and Science and close to one of the city's few synagogues that survived the Second World War.

Explore more with Eye on Poland

Many see it as a statement of the country's desire to continue its revival and redefine its identity.

Warsaw's changing skyline

"Now this world-recognized architect is coming back to Poland and building a symbolic structure in front of the Palace of Culture, a symbolic structure of communism," said Alicia Kosciesza of the Zlota 44 project.

Libeskind left Poland with his parents as an emigrant to the U.S. when he was 13, but he has seen his homeland transformed since his childhood.

I grew up under the gray skies of communism. Now it's a new country; people have light in their eyes, there's energy.
Daniel Libeskind, architect

"I grew up under the gray skies of communism, a depressed society, a totalitarian regime. A dismal period really." he said.

"I return now and it's a new country, it's a renaissance. Skies are blue, people have light in their eyes, there's energy."

Libeskind commonly accentuates the positives and transformative affects that buildings can have.

From the Jewish Museum in Berlin, to his role as Master Planner for the new World Trade Center buildings in New York, his structures have engaged and inspired many and made him one of the world's most sought-after architects.

"The re-building of Warsaw shows that despite the horrors (of the past) it's a beautiful city," he said.

"It wasn't rebuilt perfectly (after the Second World War), but it's a city that has always had the spirit of something positive."

Libeskind's Polish roots and formative years living in the U.S. as an immigrant are experiences that have shaped his attitude and were a direct inspiration for his plans for the World Trade Center.

"This is a place that needs to have a spiritual feeling, this isn't just a piece of real estate anymore," he said of the World Trade Center site.

"(When visiting 'Ground Zero') I looked South and I saw the Statute of Liberty and I saw myself arriving on that ship (when I was 13) and I thought, '"That's what America is like, that what this site is about.' It's how to connect that memory, that tragedy with the incredible city of New York."

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