A Jerusalem municipal committee has approved the construction of a high-rise building and commerce project in the capital’s busy downtown, hoping to revitalize the city center.
Conceived by Daniel Libeskind, a Polish-born architect who created Berlin’s Jewish Museum and New York City’s World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial, the “Freedom Pyramid” will sit adjacent to the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem’s downtown, atop of the ruins of the old Eden theater.
Libeskind is joined by Israeli architect Yigal Levi, who conceived the multi-purpose tower to include a commercial shopping area in addition to residential units.
The 35,000-square-meter (376,735 square feet) tower will include 200 luxury apartments, a boutique hotel, rooftop restaurant, retail stores, an outdoor public plaza and lookout points.
The half-stone, half-glass structure will be 105 meters (345 feet) tall and will feature Jewish motifs throughout, such as Stars of David embedded in its exterior.
The committee, which approved the project in May, said this week that construction on the project must break ground within five years or the building permits could be revoked.
The Freedom Pyramid is different from what Levi and Libeskind had originally envisioned. In 2011, the two architects unveiled a 24-story curving stone and glass tower. Since then, however, the building’s design was amended to include more stories and the four floors of commercial area.
Headed by Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon, the local planning and building committee approved the project almost unanimously. Pepe Alalu was the only council member to vote against the project. He said the tower exceeded the maximum allowed skyscraper height of 26 stories, and developers included additions that did not justify its redesign.
While the Jerusalem municipality has been pushing to transform the city center into an accessible commerce, business and tourism hub in recent years, architects, urban planners and politicians have warned that high-rise towers in Jerusalem would damage the city’s unique historic heritage.
The Jerusalem skyline is already dotted with a number of high-rises, built in the past when the municipality did not enforce the city’s strict building regulations.