Born in Lodz in 1946, Daniel Libeskind has gone on to become one of the world’s best known architects, with projects like the Imperial War Museum in Manchester and the Jewish Museum in Berlin to his credit. To many though he will be familiar as the man who originally won the contract to create the master plan for the World Trade Center site following the 9/11 attacks.
Wrangles with other architects and developers saw him eventually squeezed from that project, though closer to (his original) home Libeskind found himself in charge of the design of Zlota 44, a landmark 192 metre skyscraper perched between the InterContinental and the Palace of Culture.
Looking not unlike a bendy Arab cutlass the daring glass tower was the envisioned home of 251 luxury apartments (including a number custom designed by Libeskind himself), a 25 metre stainless steel swimming pool and a top floor wooden sundeck. And in spite of an average price of 7,000 euro per square metre interest proved phenomenal, with packages allegedly snapped up by stars such as ski jumping legend Adam Malysz and former national football captain Jacek Bak.
All very well so far, only no one appeared to have a clue about the financial crisis which was lying in ambush. Work on the tower had originally been forecast to finish in 2009, but construction ground to a halt. The project became the subject of a long-running court battle over whether it had the necessary permissions to be built and its developer, the Orco property group, found itself in difficult financial waters. It looked like Warsaw was going to have a half-finished concrete epitaph to the financial travesties of the noughties right in the heart of the city.
Fortunately all finally seems to have been resolved. After a court decision in October 2010 allowing Orco to start building again, construction on the skyscraper has resumed. Now scheduled to be completed 2 years behind schedule in 2012, it appears that the financial crisis hasn’t stopped Warsaw from continuing to change beyond recognition. Which will be welcome news to the city gods whose opposite numbers in Krakow saw that city’s tallest building stand half-built and empty for over thirty years with work abandoned on the 90 metre structure the moment communist Poland was plunged into economic meltdown.