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Untangling the Maze
Libeskind designs a peace center in Northern Ireland.
Courtesy Studio Daniel Libeskind

For some time now, Daniel Libeskind has been the go-to architect for designs that commemorate and seek to heal tragic and violent instances in the history of human discord. The Jewish Museum in Berlin, the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, and the master plan for the World Trade Center site in New York City all, in one way or another, give expression to anguish and the need for conciliation. Next in line for the Polish-born architect is the Maze Long Kesh Peace building and Conflict Resolution Centre (PbCRC) in Northern Ireland.

In April, the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland approved plans for the PbCRC, which was designed by Libeskind in collaboration with Belfast-based firm McAdam Design. The project is being funded wholly by a $27.6 million grant from the European Union’s PEACE III Programme.

The PbCRC is being constructed on the former site of Her Majesty’s Prison Maze, a detention facility that was used to house paramilitary prisoners during the ethno-nationalist conflict that gripped Northern Ireland during the second half of the 20th century. The building will provide a shared space to support the work of peace building organizations and agencies for local and international work, and seeks to orient the region at the forefront of peace-building work throughout the world. In addition to the new building, the 30-acre site is occupied by structures that have been retained from the prison, including the H6 block, hospital, emergency control facility, and chapel.

“It is truly meaningful to build a hope filled common ground; to tell individual stories and to do so in Maze Long Kesh,” said Libeskind in a statement.

Construction has begun on the project and completion is expected by 2015.

The PbCRC is the first project to get underway on the larger Maze Long Kesh Development site. At 347-acres, and $459 million, it is the largest development site in Northern Ireland. Overseen by the Maze Long Kesh Development Corporation, the project is seeking to attract international developers and businesses in the technology, health and life sciences, agriculture, and renewable energy industries. As of May, the former prison is also now the location of the annual Balmoral Show of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society.

Aaron Seward