The troubled Kikar Hatizmoret project between the Mann Auditorium (Heichal Hatarbut) and the Habimah theater is floundering once again after firefighters rejected plans for hydraulic emergency exits from the underground parking garage, reports Yediot Tel Aviv. The project - currently stuck at the stage of being just a large hole in the ground - may stay that way for some time because architect Dani Karavan is refusing to adjust his plans to meet the firefighters' demands.
According to the report, Karavan, who was paid NIS 2.1 million for his designs, planned the emergency exits to lie level with the plaza he has envisaged above the parking lot, and to rise hydraulically in the event of any emergency. The idea came directly from the hydraulic emergency exits in the underground parking lot of the Louvre in Paris. But Tel Aviv's firefighters will not approve hydraulic exits, saying they violate Israeli building laws and are unsafe, and are insisting that a permanent staircase be constructed from the parking lot up to the plaza.
In September, senior firefighting officials traveled to Paris to inspect the Louvre lot's exits first-hand, but remained unpersuaded.
Karavan, however, is refusing to compromise, saying that a staircase would protrude above ground and mar his vision for the plaza. His design calls for the construction of a large paved area lined with trees and statues and featuring bicycle paths, a sunken garden and a decorative pool in the middle. "How is it that at the Louvre there are 24 exits like this through which hundreds of thousands of people pass?" Karavan asked. "I cannot understand why here in Israel it isn't considered safe but over there it is... As far as I'm concerned, they can fire me from this project."
The report said it was not clear why the issue of emergency exits was not decided earlier. Karavan accepted the project three years ago, and a year ago presented his plans to the local planning and construction committee. The newspaper said that no solution is currently on the horizon.
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