Christmas festivities have become an integral part of New York City tradition with one of the most anticipated events of the year being the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. The new Swarovski Star star, arguably the most important aspect of the tree, was designed by world-renowned architect and Bronx science alumnus, Daniel Libeskind, Class of ’65. Libeskind is best known for his architectural work with the reconstruction of the World Trade Center, the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the Denver Art Museum extension, the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
“We chose Daniel not only for his architectural expertise, but also because he is a simply kind and genuine person, someone we would enjoy working with for years,” said Nadja Swarovski, a Swarovski board member.
Ironically, the star-chitect, who is of Polish-Jewish heritage and a son of Polish immigrant Holocaust survivors, does not celebrate Christmas himself. However, he rests on the fact that the star is a symbol of hope and unity across ethnicities and religions that brings peace to those who gaze upon it while strolling down Rockefeller Center.
In a recent interview published in ‘The Washington Post,’ Libeskind said, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, who you are or what your passport says. It’s something that appeals to everyone. That’s why the star is celebrated in Christian culture, in Jewish culture, in Buddhist culture, in Shinto culture. It beckons to us beyond our petty problems to something greater.”
In fact, to the seventy-two-year-old architect, it holds an even deeper meaning. Born in a homeless shelter in Poland after the war, Mr. Libeskind came to New York as an immigrant and lived in the Bronx, attending The Bronx High School of Science. He visited Rockefeller Center his first year in New York, calling it “a place that every immigrant gravitates to.” In an effort to inspire the same feeling of hope, the architect has constructed a new star. In a recent interview published in ‘The Washington Post,’ Libeskind said, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, who you are or what your passport says. It’s something that appeals to everyone. That’s why the star is celebrated in Christian culture, in Jewish culture, in Buddhist culture, in Shinto culture. It beckons to us beyond our petty problems to something greater.”
This resonates with senior Nancy Chen ’19 who visits the tree annually with her family. “Growing up, I’ve moved around a bit, but the sight of the Rockefeller tree here in New York City, especially this year with its new stellar addition, never fails to make me feel at home.”
The new star is the first renovation since the original 2004 version of the star that started with 25,000 crystals. Now with three million crystals and 140 LED spots, the star glitters on top of the seventy-two foot tall Norway spruce tree with seventy spiky rays for a glittery effect. The most unique aspect of Mr. Libeskind’s style of design is its angularity and tectonic geometry, perfectly suited for that of a star. Inspired by the beauty of starlight, the star not only holds an alluring physical appearance but also meaning, intrigue, and a lot of radiance at 106,000 lumens of white light. It has the power to bring thousands of people together in the thawing cold, uniting in the genial holiday spirit, particularly in Rockefeller Center surrounded by small shops, an ice-skating rink, and hot chocolate on the go.