Swiss Architects Picked to Design Israel's National Library in Second Competition

The previous winning proposal, by architect Rafi Segal, was deemed ineligible due to copyright issues.

The Swiss architecture firm of Herzog and de Meuron has been chosen to design Israel's new National Library, the library's building committee announced, besting several other renowned international and Israeli teams. Their selection follows an earlier competition in which Israeli Rafi Segal was awarded, and later removed from, the project.

The jury was impressed with the firm’s “many important works, its team and its careful planning methodology” and with the designers Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron’s “great openness to dialogue with the library and the company, as well as the strengths and promise inherent in the creative architecture they presented.”

The committee said Herzog and de Meuron demonstrated "their understanding of the needs of the library, care for nature and the urban environment and a relationship to the surrounding buildings.”

The winning firm was up against international superstars Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano, and three Israeli architects – Amar Korial, Kolker Epstein and Kimmel Eshkolot.

The previous competition was open to all Israeli architects and in December 2012, Segal was selected. Ultimately he was not awarded the contract due to a copyright issue after an architect from Harvard, Dr. Bing Wang, claimed she wasn't credited for her part in the design. The two proposals that were ranked immediately bellow Segal's, submitted by the duo Daniel Assayag and Julian Gitsham and architect Carlos Prus, were also found unfit, warranting a new competition.

The second round, launched six weeks ago, focused on finding planners with knowledge and experience in the planning and implementation of public buildings.

The firm of Herzog and de Meuron, winner of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, among other awards, was founded in 1978. The team is known for its design of the National Stadium in Beijing (nicknamed “the bird’s nest”), which hosted the 2008 Olympics, and the restoration of the old London power station to house the Tate Modern.

The selection process did not require a detailed plan for the library, so a model or artist rendering isn't available to give a visual sense of the concept for the building.

The committee's recommendation was approved by the National Library’s board of directors and the board of the Israel National Library Construction Company.

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