American architect Peter Eisenman told newspaper Die Zeit in an interview published on Thursday that it would not be possible today to re-build his 4.7-acre Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in the heart of the capital city.
“The social climate has changed. Much of what was long considered to be acceptable is now being questioned,” said the New Jersey-born architect, whose striking memorial design opened in 2005.
Last year the number of politically motivated crimes throughout Germany surged by about 19 percent on the year before, including more than 1,000 cases of attacks on refugee homes, up from just 199 in 2014.
Berlin hate crime monitoring groups also found an increase in anti-Semitic crimes committed in the city last year. A separate study by Berlin's Free University showed how anti-Semitic sentiments can be found across the political spectrum, with 34 percent of “extreme left” members surveyed expressing negative views about Jews.
Eisenman was part of a group of architects dubbed the New York Five, who gained notoriety in the 1960s and 1970s for their adherence to a pure form of modernism.
He was chosen to design the Holocaust memorial – officially the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe – after winning a design competition in 1997. His creation consists of 2,711 concrete slabs of the same width and length, but of varying heights, in a grid formation, allowing visitors to walk through the installation.
It has drawn criticism for not providing individual names of victims as part of its anonymous nature, as well as for its open, uncontrolled format: social media users and gamers can easily snap dating profile selfies or “catch” Pokemon at the memorial, which critics denounce as disrespectful.
Eisenman's meeting with Trump
Eisenman also spoke about his personal experience with US presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump.
“In the 1980s, when I was in the office with [architect] Jaque Robertson, [Trump] came by and said ‘hey, I want you to design some towers here in Manhattan’,” Eisenman told Die Zeit.
“We then did this and should have gotten $100,000 for the plans. But then he said ‘I don’t want that and I’m not going to pay you all either’.”
The renowned architect, who has taught at Yale, Harvard, Cambridge and Princeton universities, also mentioned his own take on Trump’s other building designs.
“The apartment blocks remind me of Soviet architecture,” Eisenman said. “After 1933, when the trials were going on in Moscow, Stalin built similar things. Very simple, very demented.”
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