The New National Library of Israel Complex

The New National Library Building

The National Library of Israel: Presenting the New Campus

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Updates on Construction of the New Building



New National Library of Israel Building - Exterior

"Located between the Israel Museum to the South and the Knesset to the East, the National Library site is directly between Jerusalem’s most prominent institutions and is an extension of the park-like landscape that weaves through the area. While fully independent, the library will be a link between the cultural and civic buildings around it. A native garden with public space and art will surround the Library and connect the interior functions to the surroundings…
The stone is not just sculptural. The elevated mass provides shade while its mineral construction adds thermal mass to insulate the interior spaces. Thermal mass and shade, combined with solar panels on the roof and a rock store in the ground (for naturally cool air) ensure that the building is sustainable. The form is strong but humble to its surroundings and the environment…

The building’s curved, elevated and cantilevered form necessitates a contemporary take on the cut Jerusalem limestone found throughout the rest of the city. Limestone is ground and added to cement to provide a bright but warm surface in keeping with the surroundings. Like stone found throughout the city, the cast surface will be chipped to unify the overall form. Openings and carvings, whose shapes are derived from a projection of erosions on ancient stone walls, are designed to minimize solar heat gain on the windows behind. The pattern is reminiscent of culturally specific imagery and text but remains abstract in origin. The mineral surface continues to the vitrine legs below. The solid legs ground the building and connect the different floors with stairways, elevators and service areas. Wood interrupts the massiveness of the structure and frames the glazed vitrines. Uncommon in contemporary Jerusalem, the wood brings a human scale and detail to the pedestrian experience while linking the building to timber traditions important to the local vernacular from ancient to early modern times."

From "Design Intent" by Herzog & de Meuron


New National Library of Israel Building - Interior

New National Library of Israel Building - Interior

"The shift from print to digital necessitates a rethinking of the library both as an institution and a building typology. To sustain their relevance in the information age, contemporary libraries must function for existing users by providing the operation and spatial quality of traditional library buildings while generating alternative spaces and uses to attract new audiences…


Our design responds to the context and reflects the ambitions of the National Library of Israel. It is open and transparent but grounded in the traditions of great libraries and the city itself. As in the past, books will remain at the center. They form a foundation and necessary balance against constant technological change. Books root the building to the ground and are visible to all in a central void. Vitrine-like elements form the bottom two floors and display the Library's content and activities to the street. Above, a carved space containing stone binds the project together and reflects the massive quality of Jerusalem’s historical architecture…


Continuous circulation allows the visitor to move through the floor and around the reading room at the center. An auditorium slopes down to provide visual connection to the street and plaza below."


From "Design Intent" by Herzog & de Meuron

The Architects: Herzog & de Meuron

Herzog & de Meuron is a partnership led by five Senior Partners – Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Christine Binswanger, Ascan Mergenthaler and Stefan Marbach. Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron established their office in Basel in 1978. The partnership has grown over the years – Christine Binswanger joined the practice as Partner in 1994, followed by Robert Hösl and Ascan Mergenthaler in 2004, Stefan Marbach in 2006, Esther Zumsteg in 2009, Andreas Fries in 2011, Vladimir Pajkic in 2012, Jason Frantzen and Wim Walschap in 2014 and Michael Fischer in 2016. An international team of about 40 Associates and 380 collaborators is working on projects across Europe, the Americas and Asia. The firm‘s main office is in Basel with additional offices in Hamburg, London, Madrid, New York City, and Hong Kong.
Herzog & de Meuron have designed a wide range of projects from the small scale of a private home to the large scale of urban design. While many of their projects are highly recognized public facilities, such as their stadiums and museums, they have also completed several distinguished private projects including apartment buildings, offices, and factories. The practice has been awarded numerous prizes including The Pritzker Architecture Prize (USA) in 2001, the RIBA Royal Gold Medal (UK) and the Praemium Imperiale (Japan), both in 2007. In 2014, Herzog & de Meuron were awarded the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP).
"Books, and the acts of reading and writing, studying and teaching, interpreting and expounding, are all absolutely fundamental to Judaism."
"The National Library is a library that can form connections between Jews in this very, very fragmented Jewish world that we have now."
"This new National Library to be built here in Jerusalem the Holy City cannot be simply and merely a national library. It must be a global library, because it was only books that kept us together as a global people."
"It is therefore my hope and my dream that the day will come when visitors to the State of Israel, be they presidents, prime ministers, or popes, will be taken first to…the new national and international library, which I propose should be subtitled, "The Home of the Book for the People of the Book."
From "The Home of the Book for the People of the Book"  by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. The article appeared in a special catalogue made for the Cornerstone laying ceremony
Click here to read the full article, and the articles of David Blumberg, Lord Rothschild, David S. Gottesman and Oren Weinberg

The cornerstone laying ceremony for the new National Library of Israel complex 


 Click to watch the ceremony highlights >>