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Boycott library contest, says Segal

Israeli architect ousted from scheme urges practices to avoid replacement competition to build National Library following design ownership row

Shunned National Library competition front-runner Rafi Segal has urged architects to boycott the relaunched contest.

The Israeli was chosen in September 2012 as the preferred architect for the National Library scheme, only for his selection to be cancelled later that year.

Segal launched a legal challenge to be reinstated on the project and a court hearing is due to deliberate on the matter in the Jerusalem Municipal Court on 8 May. But the National Library Construction Company last month launched a fresh contest to design a new home for the 120-year-old library.

Segal said he was disappointed the client had not waited until the legal case was concluded before starting again. ‘The hearing is on 8 May, so they did not have to wait too long,’ he told the AJ.

He added: ‘I hope architects will be put off by the [outcome of the] first contest. It would be ethical to avoid this new process as there was a clear winner chosen by the jury, and there is a court case going on.’

Segal’s disqualification came after former Harvard School of Design colleague Bing Wang, whose company also worked on the competition entry, challenged the architect’s ownership of the winning design (pictured). Segal said this week: ‘I need to show the court that it’s my design. [Design] is always teamwork, never just yourself. But I am 100 per cent confident that the design is mine – I hope the court is convinced.’

The National Library Construction Company said last month: ‘In December 2012, Segal’s proposal was disqualified in light of deficiencies that were discovered in it, and his selection as the preferred architect was cancelled.

‘The company informed him that it had decided to terminate the negotiations with him and that the National Library’s home would not be designed by him. The competition concluded without selecting a winning architect.’

The client said it would compile a list of six architects entering the replacement contest – three from Israel and three from abroad. An international committee will then select the winning architect.

Princeton University dean of architecture Stan Alan, who has worked with Segal on other schemes, said: ‘Whatever else, the new competition is moving forward under a cloud of doubt and uncertainty.’




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