Some six years after the first cornerstone was laid, construction on the new National Library of Israel building in Jerusalem is nearing completion and will be ready for visitors next spring.

The library will become a city landmark and find a new home between the Knesset and the Israel Museum, moving from its current location adjacent to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Givat Ram campus to which it has been bound since its opening in 1925.

Oren Weinberg, library director since 2010, has been working on setting up a new home for the largest repository of Israeli and Jewish heritage in the world, since 2016. The new library will cover 45,000 square meters (480,000 square feet) of space, with six above-ground floors and four below, with venues for exhibitions, cultural events, research, and educational programs. It will also have an auditorium, a visitors center, and an outdoor amphitheater.

The library, home to world-class collections of over four million books, 2.5 million photographs, manuscripts, artifacts, and maps, will be open to the general public as well as to researchers and academics.

The library has promised to have a “robotic retrieval system” that “will be an attraction of its own.”

The design of the new library was by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, an office that has worked on national museums, stadiums, and halls worldwide.

Speaking to an international audience as part of Jewish Book Week earlier this year, Herzog & de Meuron senior partner Jason Frantzen said the project has been “an incredible journey.”

“We started out by trying to understand the meaning of a library today, to understand the site and the challenges it posed, and we went out to look at Jerusalem architecture to try to create something that is both contextual and contemporary,” he said.

“Our first key concept was that books needed to be at the center of the project. And so at the center of the building, the light comes down to showcase rings of books and multiple reading rooms, as well as offering a view out over the underground stacks of volumes. We want to make the place welcoming to people who use the existing library and to create a space for a whole new audience,” Frantzen said.

The exterior has a carved stone roof that “rises up to meet the Knesset and dips down to preserve views from the Israel museum,” he described.

Funding for the $200 million project has come from the government of Israel, the Rothschild family through its Yad Hanadiv foundation, and the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman family of New York. David Sanford “Sandy” Gottesman passed away last month at the age of 96.

Gottesman told The Times of Israel in 2016 at the cornerstone-laying ceremony that he hoped the new building would allow the National Library of Israel to take its place among the great libraries of the world and serve as a dynamic center for intellectual and artistic collaboration and creativity.

Lord Jacob Rothschild, who also spoke at the ceremony six years ago, said: “For two thousand years, the writings of the Jewish people were scattered around the world,” he said. “Now, these writings, as well as future books and a wide collection of other resources will have their proper place, in the heart of Jerusalem.”

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New National Library building, a dramatic Jerusalem landmark, nears completion

12 11 1
11.11.2022

Some six years after the first cornerstone was laid, construction on the new National Library of Israel building in Jerusalem is nearing completion and will be ready for visitors next spring.

The library will become a city landmark and find a new home between the Knesset and the Israel Museum, moving from its current location adjacent to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Givat Ram campus to which it has been bound since its opening in 1925.

Oren Weinberg, library director since 2010, has been working on setting up a new home for the largest repository of Israeli and Jewish heritage in the world, since 2016. The new library will cover 45,000 square meters (480,000 square feet) of space, with six above-ground floors and four below, with venues for exhibitions, cultural events, research, and educational programs. It will also have an auditorium, a visitors center, and an outdoor amphitheater.

The library, home to world-class collections of over four million books, 2.5 million photographs, manuscripts, artifacts, and maps, will be open to the general public as well as to researchers and academics.

The library has promised to have a “robotic retrieval system” that “will be an attraction of its own.”

The design of the new library was........

© The Times of Israel


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