Bezalel Academy of Art and Design has revealed the blueprint for its new 37,000-square-metre campus in downtown Jerusalem.
The $100 million project was boosted this week by a $25 million infusion of funds from the Mandel Foundation, an internationally recognized philanthropic organisation that provides leadership to non-profit organizations in the United States and Israel.
“We are deeply grateful and honoured by this gift,” said Bezalel Academy president Eva Illouz.
“The new Bezalel campus will be home for the finest academy of arts, design and architecture in Israel.”
The school was established in 1906 by artist Boris Schatz as the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts and has since evolved into one of the world’s most prestigious art schools, with more than 2,000 students currently working toward their undergraduate degrees in fields such as Ceramics and Glass Design, Jewellery and Fashion Design, and Photography and Visual Communication. The school also offers graduate degrees in the fields of Urban Design, Industrial Design, Architecture and Fine Arts.
The new complex will be located in the Russian Compound near the Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Museum of Underground Prisoners, a significant multicultural meeting place in the city.
The project was designed by Japan’s 2010 Pritzker award-winning SANAA (Sejima & Nishizawa and Associates) architecture firm in collaboration with Israel’s Nir-Kutz Architects.
The proposal features classrooms, offices, studios, workshops and two auditoriums situated on terraced platforms. It also includes multi-level interior spaces to serve as meeting areas where students and professors can study.
Whereas the academy’s eight departments have traditionally been separated into different buildings, the new project brings them together under one terraced roof overlooking the city, thus creating more active social and cultural ties to the city’s life.
“The new campus represents a breakthrough for the academy, with a building that will respond to developing needs in light of the steady and significant increase in the number of our students,” said Bezalel Academy director Dor Lin.
“At the same time, it is also great news for the revitalization of the Jerusalem city centre.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat commended the creation of the campus in the heart of the city and he said he considered it an essential part of the capital’s “cultural renaissance.”
“The advent of a pioneering institution like Bezalel marks a historic turning point in the cultural renaissance of downtown Jerusalem by attracting thousands of students, young people, and artists to the city centre,” he said.
Construction on the site is scheduled to commence this year and is expected to be completed by 2017.