Leadership By Design

Paul Heagen Purposeful Leadership & Living Leave a Comment

When was the last time you walked through or looked up at a building – public or private – and felt moved? Where was it? What did it stir in you – a sense of history, drive, hope, ambition, care, purpose?

When was the last time you worked with a leader who made you feel the same way?

Daniel Libeskind is a world-renowned architect who has designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the Grand Canal Theater in Dublin, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and is perhaps most known for being the master plan architect for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site in Manhattan.

A recent series of interviews of him about the deeper impact of great design prompted me to reflect on some parallels to great leadership. Replace any of the words like “design” or “architect” or “building” with their metaphorical cousins in leadership, and you get a good understanding of just how closely the two callings are when it comes to inspiring people in their lives and work.

To me, there’s nothing more important than architecture. It creates your world and influences how you feel both mentally and spiritually.

In buildings that move us, there’s an element of care. It’s about being moved. That’s what the word emotion means. What we feel is the sense of intensity, passion and involvement. It’s something that goes very deep.

It’s important for a city to have incredible variety. I don’t like oppressive cities that offer no relief. We see this in authoritarian attempts at controlling architecture; their idea … failed because of our irrepressible individuality.

As an architect, it’s my responsibility to make a personal connection — not just with the physical environment but how it triggers our memories and emotional responses.

Even with a regular site, you have to be interested in it and sensitive to it.

We can tell when somebody does something just for a quick buck. We can feel that carelessness and the silence it produces.

Optimism is lodged in every gesture of architecture. The metaphor of life is rooted in architecture. To be born, to grow, to be, is an architectural experience. It starts from excavation, from nothing, and has only a plan that in time comes to fruition. Architecture has the notion of a future.

Architecture defines where we are, it orients us.

Architecture is often reduced to something very abstract but must be addressed to the heart and soul. The challenge is how to bring a dimension of true human life and how to create a place that opens completely new perspectives and new thoughts. 

Everything you do in architecture has to have some experience. Not everything is touching and emotionally emotive, but every building has its own story to tell.

Architecture is more than just what we see. It is part of our deepest dreams. 


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