Jerusalem planning panel limits height of proposed pyramid
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Jerusalem planning panel limits height of proposed pyramid

Structure reduced from 165 meters — which would have been 80 meters taller than the next-tallest building — to 108

A simulation by the Architects' Union shows 'The Pyramid,' planned by architect Daniel  Libeskind, as it would look when completed. (Courtesy Architects' Union)
A simulation by the Architects' Union shows 'The Pyramid,' planned by architect Daniel Libeskind, as it would look when completed. (Courtesy Architects' Union)

The Jerusalem Local Committee on Planning and Building has limited the height of a proposed pyramid-shaped mega-structure slated to be built in the center of the city.

The building, known as the Eden Tower, is expected to be built where the Eden cinema once stood in the center of town between Agrippas and Eliash streets.

Planned by the renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the structure is designed as a narrow, four-sided pyramid and was initially meant to reach an imposing 165 meters (541 feet) high.

That would have been a full 80 meters (262 feet) taller than Migdal Ha’ir, a nearby building that, when built in the mid-1970s, was as close to a skyscraper as the city allowed. Construction in Jerusalem was for years limited in height, with few exceptions, in order to preserve the city’s low-lying skyline.

The project was widely opposed, including by other architects and public servants, and the council on Thursday decided could not exceed 108 meters (354 feet) in height.

The simulation image submitted by the office of architect Daniel Liebskind, superimposed (red line) with the actual silhouette of the buildings, as drawn by the Architects' Union. (Courtesy Architects' Union)
The simulation image submitted by the office of architect Daniel Liebskind, superimposed (red line) with the actual silhouette of the building, as drawn by the Architects’ Union. (Courtesy Architects’ Union)

Since the Safdie Plan for the expansion of Jerusalem was rejected in 2007, the city has loosened its regulations barring construction of tall structures.

That plan, which would have expanded the municipal territory at the expense of parts of the Jerusalem Forest, was opposed by environmental groups on the grounds that it would destroy vast expanses of woods and encroach on the habitats of plants and animals.

A sketch by Daniel Liebskind shows the Eden Tower, a project designed to stand between the Agripas and Eliash streets in central Jerusalem. (Screen capture Facebook)
A sketch by Daniel Liebskind shows the Eden Tower, a project designed to stand between the Agripas and Eliash streets in central Jerusalem. (Screen capture Facebook)

The limit for a building’s height in the capital stands at 24 stories, but even buildings erected since the Safdie Plan was rejected have seldom risen to a height of more than 10 or 15 stories. Typically, in older neighborhoods like Nahlaot, when one- or two-story buildings are torn down to make way for newer projects, construction seldom rises above five stories.

Mayor Nir Barkat was among the supporters of the plan in its original, 165-meter-tall iteration. However, members of Israel Association of United Architects strongly opposed the plan, charging that mock-ups published by the office of Liebskind and the municipality were deliberately misleading and downplayed the structure’s “dramatic” effect on the city’s skyline. The drawings showed the pyramid as more “airy” than it actually would be, they said.

According to Haaretz, the architects prepared their own simulation showing the pyramid in its real size.

The opposition to the plan echoes opposition to the construction of other tall structures in Jerusalem, like the String Bridge at the entrance to the city and the controversial Holyland housing complex near Malha mall, which has been linked to systemic corruption involving then-mayor Ehud Olmert.

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