Herzog & de Meuron have released new images of their design for National Library of Israel. Located on a prominent site in West Jerusalem, the National Library is at the base of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and adjacent to the Israel Museum, Science Museum and Hebrew University.
The building has a six-story profile that is curved, elevated and cantilevered. It is faced in Jerusalem limestone that has been ground, cast, and chipped to create a uniform surface. Wood is used at the building’s base, and according to the architects, “interrupts the massiveness of the structure… [and] brings a human scale and detail to the pedestrian experience while linking the building to timber traditions important to the local vernacular from ancient to early modern times.” The project, slated for completion in 2020, had a cornerstone laying ceremony earlier this month.
The design is broken into three distinct regions: vitrines, five-transparent openings that frame the building's reception at ground level; carved stone, the curvaceous upper-volume that emphasizes the triangular shape of the plan and makes the building prominent, but also respectful of its surroundings; book well, a punch of offset concentric circles passing through each floor of the building and culminating in a skylight.
"Our design responds to the context and reflects the ambitions of the National Library of Israel," say the architects. "It is open and transparent but grounded in the traditions of great libraries and the city itself. As in the past, books will remain at the center. They form a foundation and necessary balance against constant technological change. Books root the building to the ground and are visible to all in a central void. Vitrine-like elements form the bottom two floors and display the library’s content and activities to the street. Above, a carved space containing stone binds the project together and reflects the massive quality of Jerusalem’s historical architecture."