When Daniel Libeskind began to design the new World Trade Center site, he was struck by the most American of ideas: to transform the site into a melting pot of emotion. At the center, he would leave an open space to remind visitors of everything lost. Around the perimeter, he would build a shield of skyscrapers, each one higher than the last, culminating in the Freedom Tower—a perfect 1,776 feet high. A native of Poland who lost 86 members of his family in the Holocaust, Libeskind, 57, has strong feelings about the project. "As an immigrant, these buildings represent your dreams," he says. "When I saw the destruction on September 11, I felt it was an attack on everything I believe in." Developers and commercial architects have tinkered with his plans, but Libeskind refuses to gripe. "This project needs a spirit of cooperation." In saying so, he only underscores why he is the best man for the job.
*The name of this award was originally the Impact Award. In 2008, the awards were renamed as the Inspire Awards.