A controversial 539-foot pyramidal tower in downtown Jerusalem, designed by Daniel Libeskind, will not be built, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported last week. Instead, the developer will go ahead with a 28-story torqued tower approved in 2012 and also designed by Libeskind, according to the newspaper. Excavation work began in 2015 on the 1.7-acre site, near the Mahane Yehuda produce market that is also a center of nightlife.
The plan for what Libeskind called “The Pyramid” aroused fierce criticism from individuals and groups, including the Jerusalem branch of the Israel Association of United Architects (IAUA), which argued that there had been no public discussion of it. That discussion eventually took place at a public meeting in Jerusalem in October 2015, at which Libeskind defended his plan, saying he shared the developer’s vision of creating a “wow!” for the city.
The city then ordered major changes, including reducing the height by more than one-third. The IAUA demanded that the new plan be presented for public review.
“The developer tried to put all the building rights into a smaller pyramid, then into a pyramid within a pyramid,” said Salma Milson Arad, chair of the IAUA’s Jerusalem branch. When, in April 2016, the city approved a new version without presenting it to the public, the IAUA and Lev Ha’ir [city center] Community Council turned to the Jerusalem District Appeals Committee, which scotched the plan.
“We are very pleased with the outcome,” said Milson Arad. “It shows that when we use the means available to us by law, we get results.”
Studio Libeskind declined to comment for this story.