After a selection process among the top architectural firms in Israel, our office was chosen, in partnership with A.J. Diamond of Toronto, Canada, to participate in a closed competition for the planning of the new Foreign Ministry building. Three offices were selected by top international architects to go on to the final selection stage. Of the three, our office was selected to design the project.
Winning this competition was a unique opportunity. Beyond its programmatic and urban use, the building was intended to be a symbol of the State of Israel, in Israel and around the world – a symbol of the young state, democratic and advanced. Like any other building, the Foreign Ministry building must fit logically into its urban environment. The front of the building facing HaLeom Avenue follows the curved line of the road and expresses the Foreign Ministry’s representational role. The top floor of the ceremonial building, where the Minister’s office is located, is located under a zinc roof designed in freeform over glass screens that contrast with the building’s stone base. On the other side, the building’s facade draws from the appearance of the government office buildings further up the road, which are of simple, inviting, and efficient design.
The hall connecting the two wings of the building and is used as a ceremonial lobby. The walls of the hall are made of onyx stone hanging on an aluminum and steel frame, thus connecting traditional materials with both technological and light materials at the same time allowing transparency that changes its look in different light conditions. The ceremonial lobby building stands on Yizhak Rabin Avenue, as a symbol of the Foreign Ministry building. Apart from the representational facade of the building, with the ceremonial courtyard at the front, we added to the program a multi-purpose hall used for receptions and formal events. Jerusalem is built of many layers, visible and hidden. One of the characteristics of the ancient city is the uncertainty about the ground surface. We used the plot’s ground surface to create a similar model. Following the main entrance is a light overhung bridge connecting the roof of the multipurpose hall and the lobby. Looking up reveals additional layers and exposes the fact that the office building and the representational building continue under the level that appears at first to be the ground level.
This is a translation of the historical situation into the modern building. It was an architectural challenge to plan a building made of Jerusalem stone, Jerusalem so it complies with security requirements as well as its program and design aims. To accommodate that, the building is with a stone that was processed in a unique mechanical way, using particularly large and uniform stone plates. This gave the traditional material a modern and contemporary look.
The Foreign Ministry project includes 27,000 square meters of offices, reception and ceremony halls unique chambers and service systems, as well as 12,000 square meters of parking space.
Client: The Government Building Administration
Location: Rabin Avenue, Kiryat HaLeom, Jerusalem
Area: 39,000 square meters
Photography: Tim Griffith, Amit Geron