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Herzog & de Meuron’s National Library of Israel scheme revealed

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[First look] Herzog & de Meuron has unveiled the first images of its competition-winning National Library of Israel scheme in Jerusalem

The Pritzker Prize laureate beat Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry and Israeli architects Ammar Curiel, Kimmel Eshkolot and Kolker Kolker Epstein to land the 34,000m² project in April last year.

The Swiss outfit was appointed shortly after a copyright row saw Israeli architect Rafi Segal ousted from the job - despite being been named preferred architect in an earlier contest (AJ 17.09.12) .

Segal’s legal battle to be reinstated to the prestigious development on the Knesset – close to the Israel Museum and Hebrew University – was abandoned in September 2013 (AJ 20.09.13).

Planned to complete in 2019, the redeveloped 120 year-old library will include a research centre, cultural venue, administrative offices and underground storage.

Herzog & de Meuron’s design includes four floors of underground parking and storage – totalling 19,000m²– and a six-storey above-ground building of around 15,000m².

In a statement, the studio said the scheme reflected the ‘open and transparent ambitions’ of the historic library.

The practice said: ‘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 statement continued: ‘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.’

Library chair David Blumberg added: ‘The new building is the jewel in the crown of the National Library’s renewal enterprise, which is moving forward full-speed.

‘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.’

The practice is working with local firm Shinar Architects and the scheme is expected to start on site in 2016.

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