The National Library of Israel is staging an architectural competition for a new $100 million facility in Jerusalem.
The privately funded building will be one of the largest public construction projects in Israel in the coming decade, about the size of the Supreme Court, and has already stirred considerable interest in Israel and overseas.
A non-Israeli architect who recently completed a large public project in the country called the design of the National Library "an extraordinary project both in terms of its importance and its scale."
The competition will begin in January 2012 and will be open to all architects in Israel.
Four winners will be selected in the first round, and they will compete against four Israeli architectural firms and four from abroad.
The judges have not yet been selected, but will not all be from Israel.
The 40,000-meter library will be built on the corner of Ruppin and Kaplan streets, adjacent to the Knesset, several ministry buildings and the Israel Museum, the library has announced.
As the country's main library research center, it will sponsor cultural and educational activities, operate a digital information center, and store special collections.
The building will be "a vibrant center serving diverse populations that will make use of the library's research services," the National Library said in a statement announcing the competition.
The National Library is moving house in part because the current building, which has never been renovated, is aging.
The current building, which has been designated for preservation, is located on the Hebrew University's Givat Ram campus and is being returned to the university for its own use. Dedicated in 1960, the building was designed by three architectural firms.
The library is owned partly by the state and partly by Hebrew University and other entities. The money for the new building is being provided by the Rothschild family, through its philanthropic foundation in Israel, Yad Hanadiv.