Design Contest for Tel Aviv Museum Annex Reaches Finals

The third and final stage of a competition for a new building for Tel Aviv Museum will be held tomorrow. Young architects vie with old professionals from Israel and abroad.

The third and final stage of a competition for a new building for Tel Aviv Museum will be held tomorrow. The panel of judges will choose the plans for the building from three finalists - architects Yehoshua Gutman of Israel and Louis Ortega of the firm 451F of Spain; Preston Scott Cohen of the United States; and Ada Carmi-Melamed and Ram Carmi of Israel.

The building will be erected in the museum area, west of the existing structure, thereby doubling the area of the museum. It will include an architectural and design wing and an educational wing.

The final stage judges are architect Moshe Safdie, Professor Robert Oxman, architectural historian Yehuda Safran, Municipal Engineer architect Danny Keiser, curator of the design and architectural wing of the museum, Meira Yagid, and museum director-general and chief curator Professor Mordechai Omer, who will head the judges' panel.

The organizer of the competition is architect Yasha J. Grobma, who watches the judging as an observer. The same panel judged the second stage. The winning plan will be made public immediately after a winner is announced.

The competition was unveiled in October 2002 and was supposed to have two stages - winners of the first public and anonymous stage would compete in the second stage against architects invited to present plans. The first stage was held as planned in March 2003 and four architectural firms made it to the next stage, in which they competed against five architectural firms from Israel and abroad that had been invited to compete.

At the second stage, held in May, the judges found it difficult to choose one winning plan from the candidates and decided to add a third stage. The two final stages in the competition were not anonymous and included personal interviews with the contestants.

The proposal presented by Gutman and Ortega was the only one to move up from the public anonymous stage. For the final stage, the contestants were asked to relate to comments and requests for clarification that arose in the previous stage and to update their proposals accordingly.

The three that made it to the final stage were awarded the minimum prize allocated for the third place in the competition, $10,000. The winner of the first place will get $25,000 and his design will be the one for the new building, if all goes as planned.

Because of the location of the museum in Israel's most important and central cultural and arts compound, the competition to design the new building is one of the most prestigious held here in recent years, and compares with the competition for the Supreme Court building in Jerusalem held in the early 1990s.

The final stage of the competition has also raised special interest because of the architects competing - young people of the new generation against seasoned and experienced professionals, and architects from Israel against architects from abroad.