Herzog & de Meuron's National Library of Israel breaks ground in Jerusalem

Ground has broken on the latest project of Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron: a new home for the National Library of Israel.

The new building – which will replace the library’s current 1950s home, described as “outdated and barely serviceable” – is located in Jerusalem’s National District adjacent to Israel’s parliament building. When it opens in 2020, it will protect, preserve and showcase the country’s cultural and intellectual books, manuscripts and artefacts and explore Jewish heritage.

The building’s design – which was unveiled in 2014 – shows a 45,000sq m (484,000sq ft) stone structure with a curving roof designed to blend with the topography of the site and link with the surrounding cultural buildings. Stone was selected as the primary building material to provide areas of cool shade, and thermal mass to insulate the interior spaces.

The library’s collection, which includes over five million books, will be spread over six above-ground floors and four below-ground floors set around a large central void decorated with stone-carved bird sculptures.

Facilities will include exhibition galleries, eating venues, an auditorium, a bookstore and a youth centre. Outside, a public garden filled with art will surround the library.

“Designing a new building in Jerusalem juxtaposes the desire to react to the architectural traditions of this historically significant place with the ambition to make a building that is both appropriate for the contemporary city and specific to the immediate site,” said the architects.

“The library is open and transparent but grounded in the traditions of great libraries and the city itself. As in the past, books will remain at the centre. They form a foundation and necessary balance against constant technological change.”

The partners in the renewal project are the government of Israel, the David and Ruth Gottesman family of New York, and the Rothschild family’s philanthropic foundation Yad Hanadiv. A budget for the project has not been revealed.

Israel's president Reuven Rivlin and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the groundbreaking ceremony, held on 5 April.

Construction is scheduled for completion in 2019. Israeli firm, Amir Mann – Ami Shinar Architects & Planners, are serving as executive architects.

Library architecture is an increasingly high-profile sector, with recent openings in the Danish city Aarhus and British city Birmingham winning international acclaim. Francine Houben, the principal of Dutch studio Mecanoo – who created the latter building and are currently working on libraries in New York and Tainan – has described libraries as “the cathedrals of our time.”

Herzog & de Meuron are working on a number of other high-profile projects, including the expansion of London’s Tate Modern art gallery and a football stadium for Chelsea FC. Earlier this year they completed work on the renovation of the Unterlinden art museum in France.

Herzog & de Meuron  National Library of Israel  Jerusalem  Yad Hanadiv  libraries  architecture  library design 
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Ground has broken on the latest project of Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron: a new home for the National Library of Israel. The new building – which will replace the library’s current 1950s home, described as “outdated and barely serviceable” – is located in Jerusalem’s National District adjacent to Israel’s parliament building. When it opens in 2020, it will protect, preserve and showcase the country’s cultural and intellectual books,
CLD,VAT,HAM,AAC,PRO,ARC,DES,DEV
The library's principal design ferature is a curving stone roof / Herzog & de Meuron
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