Pyramid Tower Planned for Central Jerusalem Nixed

Developer pulls plan by master builder Daniel Libeskind following opposition by Israeli architects, preservationists.

Naama Riba
Naama Riba
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A simulation of the Pyramid Tower that was planned for Jerusalem.
A simulation of the Pyramid Tower that was planned for Jerusalem. Credit: Studio Libeskind / Yigal Levi Architects
Naama Riba
Naama Riba

The Pyramid Tower that was supposed to be constructed on the ruins of the Eden Theater on Jerusalem’s Agrippas Street will not be built. Haaretz has learned that on Thursday the developer sent a notice to the chairman of the local planning committee, Meir Turgeman, asking him to halt promotion of the plan and close it. Instead, he is interested in promoting an earlier plan to construct a tower, which was approved in 2012. That project is for a multi-purpose, 28-floor, curved tower that would include luxury residences, hotels and commerce, designed by famed U.S.-based architect Daniel Libeskind, who also planned the pyramid. The Jerusalem municipality confirmed the details.

In the past year and a half the developer, a French citizen, tried to advance a plan to build a pyramid-shaped tower, with Libeskind and Israeli architect Yigal Levi. Meanwhile, he began excavating the tower’s parking lot. The plan to build the pyramid has undergone many difficulties. Originally the developer wanted to build a 165-meter-high tower, but due to opposition of the architects’ association and the Society for the Preservation of Israeli Heritage Sites, he was asked to lower it.

For several months the developer tried to take advantage of his building rights in a number of versions. First he planned a lopped-off pyramid, and later a pyramid within a pyramid. The architects’ association, in cooperation with the Lev Ha’ir Community Administration and with the help of attorney Guy Landau, continued to oppose the plan, and it was discussed in two district appeals committees. At the last meeting, which took place in October, the developer asked once again to amend the plan, and since then he has not submitted a new one.

The architects’ association replied: “We are very pleased that the pyramid won’t be built. Not at the original height and not in any of the additional versions planned – none of which suits Jerusalem. We think that it’s our job to caution against the planning. There are other places in the world where the public said no to Libeskind’s projects. The architects’ association says that the developer’s decision attests to the fact that there is strength in voices of protest.

“There are still procedures that are available. We will continue to represent the architects and to be here for the public, which doesn’t know how to read plans and to understand how they will damage the urban fabric.”

A representative of the developer, attorney Daniel Azriel, told Haaretz that the investors changed their minds because the design requirements prevent them from implementing all their building rights. “We are now examining the planning options that will enable us to take advantage of all the building rights,” he said.

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