Patience is a virtue...

Friday 24 Sep 2010

Chyutin Architects replace Gehry on Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem project

After years of extensive courtroom battles and redesigns, the future is beginning to look promising for the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem. Fresh plans from Israeli firm Chyutin Architects have been released, showing a structure worlds away from its predecessor - a classic Gehry-esque sculptural mass of steel and coloured titanium.

Chyutin's concept comprised of huge panes of glass which will provide extensive viewing space over the neighbouring Independence Park. With a much more modest price tag of $100m to Gehry's $250m, the new design reflects the conservative shroud that is muffling the architecture world as a result of the current economic climate - a primary concern from the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC)'s Board of Trustees that led to the discontinuation of Gehry's involvement in the project.

The SWC recently released a statement explaining: "After a nearly three year delay due to court proceedings in Israel and, given the severity of last year's financial crisis, the Center has made the decision to design a more modest project that can be fast-tracked and completed within a three to four year time frame."

With the downsizing of price in mind, it is surprising that the new designs afford a greater square footage that the original Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, with 150,000-160,000 sq ft throwing the LA facility of 110,000 sq ft into shadow. Across the MOT Jerusalem's six stories - three above ground, three below - the space will be split between an exhibition space, theatre and educational centre, whilst an outdoor sunken area at the front of the museum will incorporate a garden and amphitheatre.  

The road of the MOT Jerusalem has been rocky thus far, as the build hit controversy as construction work unearthed human remains from the underlying Mamilla Cemetery, where the bodies of multiple Islamic saints and scholars were buried. As a result, the SWC were sued by US Jewish and Muslim dignitaries, however Israel's Supreme Court gave the green light under strict conditions that the remains were correctly dealt with by Israel's Antiquities Authority.

With a fresh architecture firm on board and plans for a relatively short construction period, it seems that the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem may finally be on the home straight.  

Sian Disson
News Editor

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