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A cool, contemporary addition to a historic city

Check out a world-renowned architectural firm's new national library design in Jerusalem.


October 28, 2016 | Latest Photo Prev Next
Herzog & de Meuron, one of the world's most respected architecture firms, designed Israel's National Library.Herzog & de Meuron, one of the world's most respected architecture firms, designed Israel's National Library.Photo: Herzog & de Meuron
October 28, 2016 | Latest Photo

Books are a big deal. They impart knowledge and all sorts of other wisdom. So when Israel was looking to build a new national library in Jerusalem, it didn't think small. Instead, officials called on one of the world's foremost architecture firms, Herzog & de Meuron, to design it.

You probably know the firm's work. They designed the stadium used for China's opening and closing ceremonies in 2008, Beijing National Stadium, better known by its nickname "Bird's Nest."

They also designed London's Tate Modern, and closer to home, they're behind several art museums including Minnesota's Walker Arts Center, San Francisco's De Young Museum and Miami's Perez Art museum. They've even held a show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The Jerusalem library is one of their current projects, expected to be completed in 2020, but earlier this year images of what it will look like were released by the firm.

A circular light well is a centerpiece of the design.A circular light well is a centerpiece of the design. (Photo: Herzog & de Meuron)

The light-filled building will have two floors above ground, four below and will be arranged around a circular skylight, with curving bookcases to match the ring-shaped interior. The exterior will be made of Jerusalem limestone, found in the hills around the city.

Curving book stacks will align with the light well above.Curving book stacks will align with the light well above. (Photo: Herzog & de Meuron)

The majority of the library’s physical collection will be located below ground, forming what the architects call "the foundation of the building."

The building will consist of two floors above ground and four that are subterranean.The building will consist of two floors above ground and four that are subterranean. (Photo: Herzog & de Meuron)

The library will feature a garden with public space and art. Exhibition spaces, eating venues, a bookstore and youth center will fill out the interior.

The library will be home to exhibition spaces, an auditorium, bookstore, and youth center.The library will be home to exhibition spaces, an auditorium, bookstore and youth center. (Photo: Herzog & de Meuron)

There's also going to be an auditorium for lectures and concerts. Its design will incorporate a slope down to provide a visual connection to the street and plaza below.

An auditorium will slope down to street level.An auditorium will slope down to street level. (Photo: Herzog & de Meuron)

Israel's National Library isn't expected to be finished until 2020, but once completed it will be a welcome neighbor to other local institutions like the Israel Museum, the Science Museum and the Hebrew University.

The exterior will be made of Jerusalem stone, find in the hills surrounding the city.The exterior will be made of Jerusalem stone, found in the hills surrounding the city. (Photo: Herzog & de Meuron)

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Related Topics: Architecture, Education