A memorial center for fallen soldiers to be built at the entrance to the military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem will consist of a central commemoration space and a wall on each of whose stones the name of a fallen soldier will be inscribed. The plan for the center was announced by Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday.
The plan for the center, published here for the first time, was created by the Tel Aviv architectural firm Kimmel-Eshkolot. The firm already has a number of major public buildings to its credit, including the Davidson Center in Jerusalem and the Diller Family Building at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva.
Planning for the center, which began five years ago, envisions two elements, a commemoration hall and a heritage center. The commemoration hall will be built first, at a cost of some NIS 10 million.
Barak said work would commence this summer.
"I recognize the deep moral obligation to the bereaved families," Barak said. "The establishment of the center will be another level in perpetuating the heritage and memory of the fallen," Barak said.
The building, which will be to the left of Mount Herzl's main entrance, will be almost totally sunken into the ground. At its center will be a diagonal, three-story cone that will let in natural light. A 250-meter-long stone wall will surround the cone, on which the names of the fallen will be carved. A light next to every name will be lit on the anniversary of the soldier's death.
Visitors will enter the building via a short tunnel and will walk along the wall via a circular ramp. The designers are now considering the possibility of installing small spaces behind the wall for mourning families. The ramp will lead upward toward a public green space, whose exact appearance has not yet been decided.
The idea to establish such a facility was first raised in the 1950s by former prime minister David Ben-Gurion's cabinet, and has undergone various transformations over the years.
The closest to construction the center came until now was the plan to build a center on Mount Eitan near Jerusalem. Then-defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai even laid the cornerstone for the center as part of 50th Independence Day celebrations. However the government eventually decided to shelve the plan.
The current center is to be built at a fraction of the cost of the earlier plan, estimated at the time at $100 million.