Who says only Egypt builds pyramids? The local committee of the Jerusalem municipality Thursday approved the construction of a three-sided building designed by Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind, to be built adjacent to the Mahane Yehuda market.
A spokesperson in Mayor Nir Barkat’s office verified that the tapering tower had been approved in the local committee. Deputy mayor Tamir Nir, an architect and member of the municipality’s preservation and transportation committees who could shed further light on the project, could not be reached for comment.
The unusually shaped building, which would stand out in the warren of low buildings and twisting streets that make up the market neighborhood also known as the shuk, is to be called “The Pyramid.”
It will include 200 apartments, a boutique hotel, a public plaza lined with shops and a rooftop observatory and restaurant with views of the city.
In a 2014 interview with the Times of Israel, Nir defended high-rise and tower projects in Jerusalem’s downtown and other areas, commenting that those kinds of plans make sense in a growing city.
“Jaffa Road shouldn’t be lined with two-story buildings, it’s not right,” he said. “It should be intensive, filled with people and offices. That’s how it is in a city.”
Libeskind is working on the structure in collaboration with local architect Yigal Levi, whose offices are located on 33 Jaffa Street, just down the street from the planned building.
In a statement on his website, Libeskind said The Pyramid “mediates between ancient traditions and myths,” while providing a 21st century reinterpretation of the ancient structure.
“The design complements the context and gives the neighborhood a vibrant public space in the heart of the ancient city,” added Libeskind.
According to the description on Libeskind’s website, the city’s history and the area were an important consideration for the design, which will be in a tapering form to allow maximum light to fall on the public plaza and create ample open space.
As with many Jerusalem buildings, the façade will feature a pattern composed of Jerusalem stone and glass.
There are other new structures in the area of the market, including the 23-story Saidoff Tower, incorporating a cluster of 19th-century homes constructed by Yitzhak Saidoff between Mahane Yehuda market and the central bus station.
Next to the knot of Africa Israel buildings is Minrav’s J Tower, also on Jaffa Road, with 23 floors of apartments.