In Jerusalem, the capital of a modern country enthralled by its past, a unique national archaeology campus is being built. The project—commissioned by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and officially named The Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel—combines three major components: storage of the national archaeological treasures (some two million items); restoration labs for objects made of various materials, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, mosaics, and glass, textile, and clay finds; and a national archaeology library and archive.This sound a little gimmicky and try-too-hard to me. And I can't say that the scale model entirely reassures me. But never mind, I hope it's a success.
The guiding principle in the design of the new complex, which Safdie proposed during the competition phase, was that the project be a metaphor for an archaeological excavation. The floors will be numbered from the top down, like the numbering of strata in an excavation. And some mosaic preservation work will take place in the courtyards, which will be shaded by a canopy much like the tent-like canopies used in actual digs. The most striking design feature is this giant, square, concave canopy, held in place by cables and made of a brown, woven fiberglass-and-polymer fabric that allows 40 percent light transmission while keeping rain out. “Because of the shape, [water] drains toward the center, forming a kind of fountain into a pool,” Safdie said. The canopy also makes it possible to use clear glass in the windows around the courtyards. The perimeter walls are stone, in keeping with a municipal ordinance and also chosen because the architect believes Jerusalem buildings should be made of the local material.