Jerusalem aerial view David Citadel 370.
(photo credit: Library of Congress)
Few building sites in Jerusalem, if any, can match the size and location of this
one. Situated on the site of the former Beitar Jerusalem football field formerly
owned by the YMCA, this is a prime location in an historic area, in close
proximity to the King David and David’s Citadel hotels, the Mamilla quarter and
the Old City, not to mention excellent access to the center of town.
say you want more for your money? Some two hundred exclusive apartments with
24-hour security service, Shabbat elevators and direct underground access to the
new YMCA sports complex with its swimming pool and spa, under construction,
surround a large private park.
A three-room apartment sells for $1.25
million, a six-room, 300 sq.m. duplex for $2m.
marketing video showing all the king’s men building this palace, King David
himself obviously could not possibly afford to live here.
basic urban design concept is outstanding.
The residential buildings’
continuous facades, broken up at intervals by arched openings, following its
curving road line, are well-related to Washington Street, thereby creating a
large interior open space respectful of the adjacent historic YMCA The British
knew what they were doing, at least in architectural terms. A famous urban pair,
the Y and the King David Hotel, both constructed during the Mandate period, face
and complete each other across King David Street.
Amishar, in their wisdom, have integrated the central axis of these historic
buildings into their design. The project thus fits into its urban context
But what of the architecture? Unfortunately, the new buildings
are squat and heavy, pompous and pretentious, of enormous bulk – eight-stories
high, opposite mainly four-story structures.
Though presently accessible
to the general public, the large interior park enclosed by the residences is
raised above Washington Street and cut off from it visually, and so has little
chance of coming alive. Narrow Washington Street will now see much heavier
traffic than before.
For some reason, the dangerous perpendicular parking
on King David Street adjacent to the Y, threatening pedestrians on the narrow
sidewalk, forcing cars to back out into heavy traffic and an eyesore to boot,
was not dealt with.
Worthy of note is the fact that in searching out
solutions, the architects investigated an alternative scheme that was based on
completing the public pedestrian network, tying Keren Hayesod Street to Lincoln
Street via the site on the diagonal, thus significantly easing access to the
Mamilla quarter and the Old City. But as the main body of the site had been
previously designated as private, rather than public open space, this
alternative was rejected.
Hopefully, those who have purchased apartments
here intend to live in them yearround, thus avoiding the possibility of yet
another key urban area, such as David’s Village and Yemin Moshe, being left
All said, it must be acknowledged that this extremely large and
important building complex, possibly the most important its architects have ever
undertaken, exhibits mature and responsible urban design, a significant
achievement in so sensitive an area. But to make it all the way, the urban
design needed to be complemented and supported by fine architecture. A pity that
this is not the case here.The writer is an architect and town planner in
Jerusalem who researched the project’s surroundings for Spector Amishar
Architects and Planners in its very early stages.
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