Runners in the Jerusalem Marathon .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Engineering and Construction Division of the Defense Ministry on Monday announced an architectural competition for planning the sprawling IDF Military College Campus in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood.
Construction of the controversial 42,000-square-meter college was approved by the Interior Ministry and Jerusalem Municipality nearly three years ago.
However, when the proposal was brought to a vote by the Jerusalem Municipality’s Local and District Planning and Building Committee, Deputy Mayor Pepe Alalu (Meretz) dismissed the project as politically motivated and divisive.
“We see bringing the IDF college to the capital as a strategic step for the city’s future, the strengthening of its Zionist sector, and for young families,” Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement.
Nonetheless, the plan aroused controversy when it was announced last July by the municipality and IDF that plans to build the facility in the Jerusalem Forest were approved. According to opponents – including environmentalists from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, area residents, and the Jewish National Fund – such a project would destroy an invaluable nature reserve and restrict leisure activities in the forest.
The National Defense College is currently located at the Glilot junction in Herzliya, next to the central Military Intelligence base.
Its relocation is part of an initiative to free up land for housing in the Gush Dan region, while bringing military infrastructure to economically depressed areas in the periphery and Jerusalem.
According to the Defense Ministry, contestants will be required to present a “unique concept to establish a modern campus, based on green building standards.”
The architects participating in the competition will be required to design a blueprint to accommodate the complex’s auditorium, lecture rooms, sports facilities, dormitories, library, and interactive work rooms, the ministry said on Monday.
“Architects participating must take into account the character of the college campus, ties with Jerusalem, and its unique environment,” the ministry said, adding that special consideration will be given to plans that are environmentally friendly.
After the top five proposals are selected, a panel of judges will vote on the winning submission.