Giant domes and airports in the sky: The New York that never was

Updated 11th November 2016
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Giant domes and airports in the sky: The New York that never was
Written by Daniel Libeskind, Special to CNN
Daniel Libeskind is an architect, joint founder of Studio Daniel Libeskind and was CNN Style's first guest editor in July 2015. Below is his foreword to new book "Never Built New York."
Architecture has always begun with drawing. Music, as we know, begins with a score. In this manner, both architecture and music have completed a work. Architectural drawings and musical scores live a life of perfect solitude even if in a drawer or an attic. Their future is yet to come.
Strangely enough, people cannot conceive of architecture or music without a physical performance.
One can build a building, and yet wind up without any architecture. One can make architecture in a drawing, yet never get to build. A composer may write a score, which may never be performed, but its lack of being performed does not disqualify it as a piece of music.
Herein lies the paradox of unbuilt and unperformed works. They live their own existence, oblivious to time. The power of a drawing and its creative force does not lie merely in its use as a tool for practical purposes. It lies in the beholder's imagination.
A drawing might lodge itself in the mind and build itself to great heights within it. Beethoven composed his last works without physically hearing them played. He heard them in his mind; in his being.
So, too, architecture.
The contents of architectural drawings, be they realized or not, can enter the imagination of the public. Drawings thereby inscribe themselves as projects: future actions.
Just like music, an architectural drawing can wait a long time before revealing itself. Bach's scores lay for some 200 years, unplayed and unperformed, until Mendelssohn rediscovered them and made them public through performance. Piranesi built only one building; Chernikhov built none -- yet their creations are seminal to the history and production of architecture.
Architectural drawings have and will continue to act as a spur to the built world.
The drawings in this book, "Never Built New York," are, for me, not a compendium of nostalgia, regret, or opportunities missed. They are, on the contrary, drawing the open mind to rethink the built and the unbuilt.
"Never Built New York" is available via Metropolis Books.