As of January 1, 2019, the United States has officially withdrawn from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), one of the world’s best-known global cultural heritage and preservation organizations. The withdrawal was first announced in October 2017 after UNESCO recognized the old city of Hebron in the West Bank as a Palestinian World Heritage Site amid fierce resistance from the United States and Israel. The old city of Hebron is home to, among other relics and cultural sites, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a sacred religious site known as the Cave of Machpelah to Jews and as the Sanctuary of Abraham to Muslims. At the time, the United States and Israel complained that the UN was engaging in “anti-Israeli bias” stemming from the recognition of Palestine as a member state of the UN in 2011. Previously, the UN had criticized Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, according to Al Jazeera. When the UN elevated Palestine to membership status in 2011–during the Obama administration—the United States stopped paying its membership dues to UNESCO in protest. By 2017 the past-due fees had grown to $570 million, The Washington Post reported, and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to initiate the process of formal withdrawal from the organization. As of 2019, the outstanding balance due to UNESCO has risen above $600 million. Following the withdrawal, Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, said, “At the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred, it is deeply regrettable that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations leading these issues.” The current episode marks the second time the United States has left UNESCO, following President Ronald Reagan’s withdrawal from the group in 1984 in an effort to thwart the recognition of Soviet historical sites. The United States rejoined the group in 2002 under President George W. Bush following the attacks of 9/11 amid a push to boost international solidarity by the U.S. The United States now hopes it can participate as an “observer state” on “non-politicized issues,” including the protection of World Heritage sites. The body is due to take up this new role for the United States when it next meets in April 2019.
Posts tagged with "Israel":
A fascinating and thoroughly researched book, Space Packed: The Architecture of Alfred Neumann, by Rafi Segal (2018, Park Books) investigates the rise and fall of Alfred Neumann, Israel’s perhaps most major, and yet still unknown, architect. In addition to providing a compelling biography, Segal makes the claim for Neumann’s unique significance and demonstrates how his work captured important conversations and conflicts in Israeli architecture of the 1950s and ’60s; Neumann's work was a cipher for debates about the future of architecture in the new state. Lavishly illustrated with drawings and photographs and concluded by an appendix that contains Neumann’s own writings, Space Packed convincingly asserts that this man at the margins was ahead of the times. Alfred Neumann was born in 1900, trained with Peter Behrens and Auguste Perret, survived World War II as an inmate at the Theresienstadt concentration camp, and then emigrated to Israel in 1949, a year after the state was founded. He became dean of Haifa’s prestigious Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and, in 1956, published the first part of a theory that would inform his work for decades: a pamphlet that called for architecture’s reform through a new, humanizing system of proportion to determine a better measurement unit. Buildings were to be seen not as singular large forms, but as an aggregate assembly of smaller, repeated, and interconnected units that could render them more humane. Beginning with his astonishing Bat Yam City Hall, and through the fabulous seaside holiday villages for Club Méditerranée and Kiryat Yam, Neumann became known for buildings with complex interfaces between interior and exterior. Space packing came to be understood as a mode of making architecture—in her obituary, Ada Louise Huxtable called him the father of the movement—structured on polyhedral forms that could be “packed” for maximum spatial efficiency. The polyhedral and non-orthogonal geometries these ideas produced were impressive in their capacity to relate to local conditions of climate, light, and topography. Bold colors were an important element of Neumann’s work and were used as a way to interpret programmatic space. Pattern and repetition were paramount in space packing. Neumann’s architecture had a major impact in its time and is still alluring today. Zvi Hecker joined Neumann’s studio in 1952 and became a close collaborator for life. Moshe Safdie spoke of the affinity he felt with Neumann’s work, and, for Neumann’s obituary in 1968, Architecture d’Aujourd’hui gave him an entire page alongside Walter Gropius’s full-page announcement. During their lifetimes, Gropius said of Neumann that he had developed the only meaningful system of human proportion except for Le Corbusier. The history of Israeli architecture writ large is a history of dynasties—the Rechters and Sharons among them—to which Neumann, a minor architect, did not belong. For the last two years of his life, Neumann lived in something of an exile in Canada, where he founded the architecture department at the University of Laval in Quebec City. Caught in controversy around his Danciger Building (1963–66), as well as Israeli architecture’s tilt toward historicist postmodernism after the Six-Day War, Neumann no longer had his finger on the pulse of the country’s architecture scene. He was buried in 1968—as a Christian in a Catholic cemetery in Quebec City—per his request.
Instead of a single static exhibition for this year’s London Design Biennale, the Israeli pavilion will instead present an ever-rotating design studio. Exposed Nerves will feature one new design team every week of the Biennale, putting the creative process, not the end product, on display as a work of art in and of itself. The 2018 London Design Biennale will run from September 4 through 23 and will kick off with a series of talks and lectures. The theme, Emotional States, challenged each of the 40 participants—each representing a different country, city, or territory—to think about how design affects emotions. For the U.S.’s contribution, the Cooper Hewitt will return after their showing at the inaugural 2016 Biennale with an exhibition that remixes facial recognition technology into an interactive playscape. For Exposed Nerves, lead curator Hila Shaltieli and the curatorial team chose to highlight the animating energy of design as a hectic, collaborative process. Each four-person team will feature artists from a variety of backgrounds, including illustrators, architects, textile designers, and more, working to create cross-disciplinary projects. “The installation puts both the creators and the audience in an ever-changing emotional state because of the fragility and the delicacy of the meeting point,” said Shaltieli in a press release. “Everyday life in Israel is tough and hectic. The daily routine is characterized by a lack of security, both mental and physical. There are ongoing emotional and deeply rooted political, ideological, and theological disagreements and controversies between the various groups comprising Israeli society. All of these crash into the daily routine and shake it to its core.” Exposed Nerves will be split into two rooms: “The Studio,” where the artists create their work, and “The Gallery,” where work from the previous week’s team will be displayed. The teams will create daily works inspired by the news and collaborative goals, and visitors will get to experience both sides of the design profession. The lineup is as follows: Week One, September 2–10: Illustrator Asaf Hanuka, artist Nelly Agassi, architect Philipp Thomanek, and visual communication designer Nadav Barkan Week Two, September 10–17: Textile designer Gali Cnaani, visual communication designer Dekel Bobrov, industrial designer Pini Leibovich, and product designer David Amar Week Three, September 17–24: Visual communication designer Danielle Weinberg fashion designer Maya Arazi, product designer Rami Tareef, and product designer Alon Meron
A white building from one of the New York Five? That's hardly surprising, but it is perhaps fitting that Richard Meier's latest work has gone up in Israel's White City, an area famed for its modernist and Bauhaus architecture. Known as "The Whites," the New York Five comprised Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk and Richard Meier. Their work, bound together by the now career-defining "Five Architects" which was published in 1972, riffed on Corbusian ideals and produced white forms in their early careers and indeed much of Meier's career in general. Richard Meier & Partners' Rothschild Tower, which officially opened last week in Tel Aviv, is a continuation of that form. Located on Rothschild Boulevard in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of White City, the 42-story tower is a residential building that offers balconies on every corner as well as a swimming pool, spa, and wine cellar. This is the firm's first project in Israel. "The great thing about the site is that it's related to the whole city; it's related to all of the wonderful buildings of the 1930s and to the historic buildings of Rothschild Boulevard. It makes me very happy to be in such company," said Meier in a press release. Drawing on Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye, Rothschild Tower sits above the street, supported by a set of piloti. A double-height lobby bound by a glass curtain wall facilitates openness at street level. White louvers horizontally span each level where residential units are located and comprise a double-layered facade. "The transparency and lofty openness of the ground floor lobby, garden and retail spaces contribute to a vibrant streetscape," said Reynold Logan, a design partner at Richard Meier & Partners who headed the project.
Israel has one of the largest concentrations of modernist architecture in the world. Much was built before the state of Israel even came into existence, during the British Mandate period, from 1923-1948, when political upheaval in Europe brought a new generation of modernist-trained architects to cities like Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem. This extraordinary collection of architecture is the subject of the Israel Museum’s current exhibition, Social Construction: Modern Architecture in British Mandate Palestine. The show, inspired by the research of architects Ada Karmi-Melamede and Dan Price, and curated by Israel Museum Chief of Exhibition Design Oren Sagiv, uses an impressive collection of photos, drawings, and other resources, to analyze the built forms created by famed Bauhaus disciples like Eric Mendelsohn and Richard Kaufmann as well as by those trained in the newly emerging modernist language throughout the world. What they created, the show demonstrates, was something altogether original. It wasn't meant to distance itself from existing forms, as modernism so often did in Europe, but to create a completely new urban context and social order. The buildings, points out Israel Museum Director James S. Snyder, create both an innovative separation of spaces for interior life, and geometrically-rich exteriors that take on a distinctly Israeli character. “All of those things had to do with enlivening the exterior so it enlivened the public realm,” said Snyder. “The life of the façade became a continuation of the street life,” added Sagiv. “A new aesthetic language was crystallized, about a country that was starting from scratch.” Examples of the lively tectonic characteristics that the show examines include double walls, penetrating entrances, vertical stairwells, articulated balconies, and recessed horizontal fenestration. All played a role in knitting together this new urban fabric, both in the private and public realms. In Tel Aviv, which has the country’s greatest concentration of Mandate-era modernism, their scale had what Snyder calls a “modest grandeur,” reflecting the emerging democratic values of the country. These buildings were designed to fit into the concept of a carefully-spaced, intricately-planted garden city. It's an awe-inspiring collection that hits home the substantial importance of the region in the growth of modernism, both as an architectural style, a city making movement, and a philosophy of living. Social Construction: Modern Architecture in British Mandate Palestine is on view at the The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, through December 31. AN visited the exhibition with Vibe Israel.
Daniel Libeskind is the latest high-profile architect to unveil a pyramid-shaped skyscraper, this time in Jerusalem
Jerusalem's municipal committee has approved the construction of The Pyramid, a 26 story building by starchitect Daniel Libeskind that will become the city's second tallest building. Libeskind worked alongside Israeli architect Yigal Levi in designing the 344-foot-tall luxury high-rise that is set to break ground by 2019. The structure will be built above the ruins of Israel's century-old Eden Theater and across from the famed Mahane Yehuda Market, also known as The Shuk. The Pyramid's facade, with its half-stone, half-glass tessellated panel and embedded Star of David, is placed atop colossal colonnades that connect shops located around a public plaza. The tapering characteristic of the Pyramid gravitate towards the sharp, open tip that will serve as both a roof-top observatory and a restaurant. Besides retail, the project features 200 apartments and a boutique hotel. "The Pyramid mediates between ancient traditions and myths, while providing a 21st century reinterpretation of that great form,” Libeskind said in a statement on his website. "The design complements the context and gives the neighborhood a vibrant public space in the heart of the ancient city." The project was proposed by Libeskind and Levi back in 2011 with a different design. The original included a curved, wave-shaped tower with Jerusalem-style gates. "We want to bring to the city center the revolution that Mamilla spurred in its area," Levi told Hareetz in a 2011 article, referring to the luxurious mall on the Alrov Mamilla Avenue strip. "There are a lot of new projects in the city center, but they don't create a meeting place where people can linger and meet." Jerusalem is currently in the midst of a transformation into an even more bustling business and tourism region with at least eight other high-rise projects proposed since 2011, spurring some architects, politicians, and urban planners to caution that so much development could damage the city's known historic heritage. Pyramidal shapes have been growing in popularity for high-rise design in recent years, with Bjarke Ingels' under construction Via "courtscraper" under construction in Manhattan and Herzog & de Meuron's pyramid tower in Paris moving forward.
Al Jazeera has launched Rebel Architecture, a six-part documentary that profiles lesser-known architects who are using their design skills “as a form of activism resistance to tackle the world's urban, environmental and social crises." These designers aren’t building glass towers for the global elite, but schools, cultural spaces, and homes for everyone else. And they're often doing it in legal gray area. In the first piece of the documentary, Al Jazeera follows Spanish architect Santiago Cirugeda, "the Guerilla Architect,” as he attempts to transform a defunct cement plant into a cultural hub. The rest of the series will be set in Pakistan, Israel and the West Bank, Brazil, Vietnam, and Nigeria.
There is an ongoing architectural quest to find new and innovative sustainable materials. Some products could appear in the next science fiction film, such as the fungus-grown packaging material by Ecovative. Other materials have been with us for a long time, under guise of other uses. Some products—like the lowly shipping container—have served one function for so long they beg to be reinvented. Israeli architect firm Yoav Messer Architects won the Ariel Sharon Park Competition in early ,2013 for a unique pedestrian bridge built from the ubiquitous metal boxes, and with progress underway, the proposal could serve as a new model for reusing the discarded pieces of shipping infrastructure. Serving as the gateway to Ariel Sharon Park in Israel, the 520-foot-long bridge gives this 100 percent recyclable conglomerate waste a new lifeline. Further, the modifications to the containers are done primarily off site to protect the integrity of the environmentally sensitive area. The bridge seeks to integrate the surrounding scenic beauty for pedestrians and cyclists by including observation decks to view the surrounding nature preserve vistas. Pedestrians can also access the rooftop boardwalk by staircases located near the midpoint of the bridge. To overcome ventilation problems, the team added holes in the container walls that double as lookout points. Three tree-column supports hold the the container structure airborne. The project challenges when a product is considered "waste." The demand to divert waste is increasing as landfill space decreases around major cities. If this project is successful, architectural firms may turn to these once discarded containers and ask, "What other needs can they meet?"
The Architecture firm Sejima & Nishizawa and Associates (SANAA), in partnership with Israel's Nir-Kutz Architects, recently unveiled a proposal for a new 400,000 square-foot building for Jerusalem's Bazalel Academy of Arts and Design. The design of the new building aims to promote collaboration between the school's eight different—and currently separate—departments by housing them under one roof for the first time. There will be space for classrooms, studios, offices, two auditoriums, public galleries, and cafes. The building is made up of stacked horizontal slabs that mirroring the landscape of the ancient city. The interior features open, vertical spaces that let in optimal natural light and create visual as well as physical connections between departments. On the exterior, the slabs support terraces between floors. Ramps and staircases connect the terraces inside and out. The new $100 million campus will sit in historic Russian Compound, between the Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Museum of Underground Prisoners, overlooking the old city of Jerusalem. Situating the campus here was a decision made by Jerusalem's municipality, the Israeli government, and the academy in an ongoing effort to rejuvenate this downtown district into a cultural hub with a lively art scene and bustling street life. Construction is expected to begin at the end of 2014 thanks to a $25 million gift from the Jack, Joseph, & Morton Mandel Foundation. Completion is slated for 2017.
Aircraft Carrier Storefront for Art and Architecture 97 Kenmare Street Through April 27 Aircraft Carrier examines the dramatic changes that occurred in Israeli architecture between two catalyzing moments in global capitalism, 1973 and 2008. The events of the former, marked by irreparable changes in American relations to the Middle East and the fundamental structures of Israeli society, drastically altered the course of Israeli architecture. Presented through diverse works of photography and video art from international artist Florian Holzherr, Nira Pereg, Jan Tichy, Asaaf Evron, and Fernando Guerra, the exhibition explores this transformative period, the American imprint that endowed it, and the radical changes in Israeli architecture that emerged from it.
The Storefront for Art and Architecture is bringing Aircraft Carrier, the 2012 Israeli pavilion at the Venice Biennale, to New York. The exhibit—one of the most pointedly political statements at the biennale—confronts the influence of the United States and its foreign policy in the Middle East and how it has affected Israeli architecture. The pavilion points to the year 1973 and the OPEC oil crises as a watershed in global capitalism when American strategic interests helped enable a new level of corporate architecture in Israel. The resulting reflected glass skyscrapers set against the optimism of Tel Aviv's White City could not be more a poignant modernist image. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by German publisher Hatje Cantz and edited by the curators, which contextualizes the phenomena in larger transformative processes. The book include texts by Milton Friedman, Justin Fowler, and Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen and visual works by participating artists Florian Holzherr, Nira Pereg, Jan Tichy, Assaf Evron, and Fernando Guerra. Exhibition Opening: March 7, 2013, 7PM Exhibition: March 7 - April, 29 2013
Biennales have proliferated in recent years marking the redistribution of culture and also its global consumption. Once wed to the rarefied setting of Venice, they can now be found in Barcelona, Rio, Lisboa and… Bat Yam. “Bat Yam?” you ask. In this unknown and unlikely Israeli town, the curators of the Bat-Yam Biennale of Landscape Urbanism have fashioned a wonderful new genre of biennale that is more “urban action” than exhibition. A rather poor, largely Russian immigrant “outer borough” of the elegant white city of Tel Aviv, Bat Yam calls to mind Brighton Beach with palm trees. The city constitutes a frayed but dignified modernist fabric built from an amazing array of gemütlich variations on the Maison Citrohan with a sensitive implementation of the tenets of open space, light, air, and the hierarchy of ways. While the biennale provides the city with an array of quasi-permanent installations of public art, architecture, and landscape as catalysts for its growth and transformation, the exhibition continues to search for new strategies to sustain a city that lacks both the opportunities but also the limitations of development-driven planning. The two curators, Yael Moira-Klein and Sigal Barnir frame their appreciation of Bat Yam’s modernist town planning within an acknowledgement of the problems it faces: most significantly, a dearth of property for the kind of commercial development on which the Israeli tax structure is based. Indeed, the construction sites that became fertile ground for the biennale exhibits are the very last that remain. A comparison with the neighboring town of Holon is illuminating. Awash with cranes and mixed-use towers, property rich Holon can use development per se as its planning strategy and then give it an identifiable urban image through hi-profile projects such as the new Ron Arad Design Museum. In the absence of such raucous development, the curators ask, what is Bat Yam to be? The Biennale’s formal theme “Timing” attacks city planning and development from the point view of landscape and its partnership with long-term unpredictable growth. Embracing this point of view, the Bat-Yam municipality offered up part of their annual public works budget as a funding source along with fallow city properties as sites for projects, at least for now. And so a glowing lantern hooked to a construction crane at night entitled "Skylight" will remain only until its tower is complete. Several empty lots so small as to evade development are currently transformed into social hangouts. Meanwhile, at other installations, the powder coated steel arcade of “On the Way to the Sea” will remain a welcome long-term fixture in the municipal park; but the mobile trees in boxes from the “Roaming Forest” and the landscaped craters of "Observing Horizon” will only come of age over the next several years. This robust concept of timing gracefully frames issues of sustainability as matters of “persistence.” The “Great Butterfly Experiment” counters the widespread recession of butterflies with the installation of 150,000 butterfly-attracting plants and a truly lovely pavilion to welcome them back. “Tamogotchi Park” takes on the serious matter of water supply with a Rube Goldberg affair of a child-operated merry-go-round that pulls the ocean through pipes to a tower where it is desalinated and then fed to plants under individual polycarbonate bubbles. The long-term curatorial intention of importing these projects to Bat Yam is the cultivation of “urban action” from within. No high price tag installations have been installed to re-brand Bat Yam as the next art biennale capital; rather on-the-cheap opportunistic interventions prod the municipality and the residents to first take note of their city and then hopefully to take part. The curators used the biennale to actually jump start grassroots organization by commissioning teams of designers and sociologists to identify small sites of public/private ambiguity like parking strips and to organize the neighbors/stakeholders around collaborative designs for their improvement. Within the Biennale’s light heartedness lie serious questions of the politics of permanence and stability. On a moonlit walk along the Mediterranean heading south from Tel Aviv through Jaffa to Bat Yam, it emerged that the sole neighborhood with no direct access to the beach is predominately Arab. By simply making Bat Yam a destination, the Biennale created a sense of imaginative continuity among these three waterfront communities. And if it did not yet exist then surely it could, as various city officials hope, given the shared economic and social opportunities that mutual “urban action” along such a beachfront would bring. Here is the promised city of “Timing.”