[First look] Israel’s Chuytin Architects has unveiled its competition-winning design to replace Frank Gehry’s ditched $250m Museum of Tolerance project in Jerusalem
Gehry decided to pull out of the controversial project, part of which would have sat on an ancient Muslim cemetery, early last year (see below).
The 15,000m² scheme is backed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center features a three-storey ‘wing’, housing a theatre and social rooms, and two storeys of underground exhibition space.
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Previous story (AJ 19.01.2010)
Gehry leaves controversial Jerusalem project
Frank Gehry has pulled out of the controversial $250m ‘Museum of Tolerance’ project in Jerusalem
The practice’s decision follows heavy criticism of the project. The site chosen for the development was once part of an ancient Muslim cemetery and a petition from leading British architects (AJ 26.11.08) condemned the proposed Museum as a ‘blow to peaceful coexistence’.
The divisive development has also come under heavy criticism from local groups, US rabbis, Israeli scholars, cultural figures and orthodox leaders.
Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of Israel’s Islamic Movement, and Jerusalem Arab families whose ancestors are buried in the Mamilla Cemetery, had petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to block the project. However, in November 2008, the high court gave clearance for construction. It argued that no objections were raised in 1960 when a parking lot was placed over a small part of the cemetery, which was in continuous use since at least the 13th century up to the early 20th.
Abe Hayeem is the chair of Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine, an organisation campaigning to stop the Jerusalem-based development.
‘Although Gehry’s office has not given a reason it is obvious that, at last, they have succumbed to the pressure,’ he said. ‘They have worked out that it would not be a good building to add to the firms’ work portfolio, for being too controversial, and that it would also inflame Muslim sentiments in Jerusalem and around the world.’