UPDATE: Israeli architect Rafi Segal appears to have abandoned his case to be reinstated as designer of the National Library of Israel. This decision comes after the client announced that it had signed a contract with Pritzker Prize-winning practice Herzog & de Meuron, who was initially chosen in April and triggered Segal’s demand to be reinstated. Now that the Swiss duo has officially signed onto the project, Segal has requested a withdrawal without prejudice. Before the hearing scheduled for September 12, 2013, Segal asked the court to withdraw the case. The court overruled his objections and granted HyperBina a compensation of fees and costs.
Official statement from the National Library Construction Company:
‘Rafi Segal, whose competition entry was disqualified for failure to meet the terms of the competition and who was therefore removed from being the “preferred architect”, is now trying to compel his selection through the courts. Notwithstanding his failure to meet the conditions of the competition by way of establishing his full and exclusive rights in and to the plan he submitted, and having conducted himself in ways that have resulted in his loss of credibility in the eyes of the client.
‘In December 2012, The Jerusalem District Court denied his request for an ex parte temporary injunction barring the selection of another architect for the project. The evening before the date of the hearing on the request for an injunction, Segal withdrew his petition – following submission of the Company’s reply. Segal also filed a lawsuit asking the Court to declare him the “Winning Architect”. The court denied Segal’s requests to expedite the process and set a preliminary hearing for May 2013.
‘In April, following a three months process, an international selection panel chaired by Prof. Luis Fernandez-Galiano, selected the 2011 Pritzker Prize winners Herzog & de Meuron to design the new Library building.
‘In the preliminary hearing on 8 May, Segal asked to add Herzog & de Meuron as a respondent in what seems to be an attempt not to lose legal grounds for his claim. Herzog & de Meuron have no involvement in the saga and have no obligation to defend their award.’
Just when it seemed that Herzog & de Meuron was the final choice for the design of the new National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, the initial competition winner, Israeli architect Rafi Segal, has launched a legal challenge against the project backers' decision in hopes of being reinstated.
Rafi Segal's winning competition entry was announced back in September 2012; however, one of his former colleagues at the Harvard School of Design, Bing Wang, challenged his ownership of the winning design. She claimed that she and her company, HyperBina, had worked on Segal's entry and should have been credited for their role when the announcement of the winner was made.
The selection committee dismissed Segal on grounds of alleged copyright infringement and began to look for a replacement, considering six international architecture firms - Ammar Curiel, Frank Gehry, Herzog & de Meuron, Kimmel Eshkolot, Kolker Kolker Epstein and Renzo Piano - before deciding on Herzog & de Meuron. Herzog & de Meuron impressed the jury with their commitment, innovation and openness to dialogue with the client.
Segal, however, argues that he had intended to name the full design team as soon as he had permission to publicize his win and a Jerusalem court has agreed to consider Segal's claim. The chances of Segal being reinstated as the selected architect for this project are unclear; what is clear, however, is that what appeared to be a resolved dispute has just been unearthed once more.