The successful first-phase practice will also have to compete against two other preselected Israeli firms in the four-way final showdown to win the international Bezalel design competition.
Tel Aviv's Ada Karmi-Melamed Architects, and Jerusalem-based Rosenfeld Arens Architects are the two local firms going up against FOA and the fourth practice in the final.
The Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design launched the 'anonymous' contest earlier this month in a bid to find a designer to mastermind the institute's move from its existing home on Jerusalem's Mount Scopus to a new campus on an empty 9,000m 2site in the centre of the city.
Known as the Russian compound, the plot is about 300m from the Old City and has been historically used as a 'mobilising area' for military forces hoping to invade Jerusalem - including the Romans - although it is a car park today.
One architect considering entering the contest said: 'It's certainly an interesting challenge.'
An overall winner is expected to be announced in February next year.
For more information about the competition visit