In April 2013, the National Library of Israel announced that Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron had been selected to design a new Library complex in Jerusalem. The news came after the original architect selected for the project - Rafi Segal - was dropped due to allegations of copyright infringement.
Renderings have now been released for the Herzog & de Meuron designs, showing a sleek, light-rich design spread over 10 floors. In total the building will encompass 34,000 sq m, with six above ground levels and four below. The practice is working with executive architect Mann Shinar Architects and Planners.
Herzog & de Meuron states: “Our project reflects the open and transparent ambitions of the National Library of Israel. The strong, sculptural form of the stone, related to the specific topography and context of the site, is elevated off the ground, and situated above vitrine like elements.
“The stone contains a large open space for the library’s visitors and users to interact while the vitrines expose the collection, reading room and public functions to the street and adjacent surroundings.”
Due to be located in the National Precinct in close proximity to the Knesset, Israel Museum, Science Museum, Hebrew University, and the Supreme Court Building, the National Library will incorporate a central research centre, space for indoor and outdoor cultural and educational activities, a hall for digital works, climate controlled underground storage facilities, and administration space.
Chair of the Library David Blumberg said: “The new building is the jewel in the crown of the National Library’s renewal enterprise, which is moving forward full-speed. It will provide the Library with a stately and fitting home that will contribute to the enhancement of its activities in every sphere in which it has begun to operate over the past decade.
“These professional realms encompass research, preservation and provision of access to Jewish and Israeli culture using state of the art technologies. The new building will reflect the Library’s role as a leading national institution in the collection and preservation of the treasures of the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the world.”
Design development will now take place and construction is due to start in 2016. Completion is expected in 2019. WAN posted details of the Herzog & de Meuron design to its Facebook page and a debate has already begun. Click here to visit the page view the discussion.