simon wiesenthal 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has unveiled a new design by Chyutin Architects for
its planned Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, which will be built at an
estimated cost of $100 million.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, the
organization’s founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, laid out the plans for the museum’s
building, which will include a theater seating up to 1,200 people, an education
center and a massive glass wall opening to nearby Independence Park.
gave an opportunity to three different architectural firms and the board voted
unanimously in favor of this design,” Hier said.
“Although the others
were also fine designs, we were most impressed with this one.”
Chyutin design replaces an earlier one by renowned architect Frank Gehry, whose
estimated cost of $250m. dollars made it too expensive to build.
originally wanted to incorporate some of his design into the complex, but Frank
said his work was like a sculpture and that if you take out some of the pieces
the whole design falls apart,” Hier said.
Mickey Chyutin, head of the
architectural firm, spoke about what he tried to convey in his vision for the
“The overreaching message of tolerance manifests itself in the
building’s dialogue with its surroundings – one which is founded on
conspicuousness, rather than concealment,” he wrote in an email from Japan,
where he is currently visiting. “This inviting edifice stands in the warm
embrace of the city and park around it, shining as a jewel set to the Jerusalem
Since the idea to open a Jerusalem branch of the Museum of
Tolerance first emerged in 1993 at the behest of then-mayor Teddy Kollek, the
planned cultural center has had a tortured history.
First, it was
challenged by Palestinian petitioners who said it should be relocated, since its
plot is on part of an old Muslim cemetery.
For years the project was
bogged down in legal battles until the Supreme Court ruled in favor of
of Israel, which gave the land to the museum.
Still, some Palestinians,
like Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi still actively object
construction of the museum as well as the adjacent Jerusalem District
which, coincidentally, is also designed by Chyutin – on grounds that
represent human rights violations.
Second, the 2008 recession made
donations harder to come by, leading to the Wiesenthal Center’s decision
abandon the expensive Gehry plan consisting of many different
“The new design’s price tag is under $100 million,” Hier
“Right now we have half of that sum, and we hope to raise the rest
from donors during construction.”
Hier said he hoped to open the center