Saturday, July 23, 2016

Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance set for 2018 completion

Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem Moves Forward. Long embroiled in controversy, the troubled project now has 2018 as its completion date (Esther Hecht, Architectural Record).
Despite its tortuous history, the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem is “rapidly progressing,” according to its backer, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center. “All of the building's concrete walls and floors are in place,” the Center announced this month.

The news followed a long media silence regarding the controversial project, located at a prime site in central Jerusalem. Originally designed by Frank Gehry the museum was tied up in court for years and then abandoned by the architect. It was designed again, on a smaller scale, by the Israel-based Chyutin Architects, who also walked away from the project. The project is now in the hands of the Los Angeles office of Aedas and its Jerusalem-based project affiliate, Yigal Levi Architects.

According to the Center, the museum is set to be completed in time for the celebration of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, in the spring of 2018. But the statement’s optimistic tenor belied the project’s troubled gestation and lack of clarity about its function.

The long story of the controversy is summarized briefly. The construction was begun in 2006 but halted after it became clear that it involved excavating from the Muslim Mamilla cemetery and objections were lodged. Decades ago a parking lot had already been built over the cemetery without objection, which did not make the situation less complicated. The go-ahead to resume construction was given in 2009, but other complications had arisen by then. My last post on the subject, in November of 2011, is here, with links leading back to 2006 when the controversy erupted. In 2011 construction had begun again. Things seem to have been pretty quiet since then, although I may have missed some coverage.