The majestic new National Library building and surrounding campus, designed by renowned Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, is now under construction.

Image: Illustration from The Fish’s Journey.  H. N. Bialik, T. Seidmann-Freud. 1925.

After years of planning, the new National Library of Israel building and surrounding campus, designed by renowned Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, is now under construction. (Scroll down for building renderings and construction video.) Herzog & de Meuron, 2001 Pritzker Prize laureates, are designers of a stunning array of international cultural landmarks; Mann-Shinar serves as the Executive Architect for the project, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.

The National Library of Israel is privileged to have received major capital gifts towards the new Library campus. The lead partners in the building renewal project are the Government of Israel, the Rothschild Family (Yad Hanadiv), and the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Family of New York.

We are also honored to have many significant naming recognition partners for our new building, including: The David Berg Foundation, William Davidson Foundation, The Helen Diller Family Foundation, Saul A. Fox, Dr. Jacqueline Heller, Jonathan Holtzman, Suzie and Bruce Kovner, Legacy Heritage Fund, The Younes & Soraya Nazarian Family Foundation of the Ima Foundation, The Pratt Foundation, John Pritzker Family Fund, Renata and Roberto Ruhman, Martin and Nathalie Saidler, Haim and Hanna Salomon (The Estate of Naomi Salomon), Stephen A. Schwarzman, The Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Philanthropic Foundation.

According to the architects, the project reflects the aspirations and values of the National Library in Israel: “The building itself, the façade and topographic design that communes with the surrounding monuments and institutions—all these form an open and welcoming interaction with the community of users of the Library and with the institutions nearby and adjacent to it.”  The Library’s location, in Jerusalem’s National District that includes the Knesset, the Supreme Court, and the Avenue of Museums, will reflect the central values of democratizing knowledge and opening the National Library’s world-class collections and resources to as broad and diverse an audience as possible.

The conceptual design phase began in August 2013, followed by the schematic and detail design stages from 2014 through 2016. In spring 2016, the National Library of Israel celebrated the cornerstone laying for the state-of-the-art, 45,000 square-meter new National Library of Israel building, marking the beginning of the excavation of the site.  In 2017, final construction design was completed, general permits were secured, and excavation was completed. Construction began in April 2018 and is expected to be completed in December 2021.

The future National Library building will include a multi-floor central reading room, some 500 study stations, on-site storage for millions of items, a Visitors Center, dedicated areas for educational and cultural programming, a conservation and restoration lab, employee offices, a gift shop and restaurants, a 430-seat auditorium, and rotating and permanent exhibition galleries at the entry level. The Library is also designed to be amongst the most environmentally sustainable public buildings in the Middle East.

A centerpiece of the surrounding outdoor gardens and plaza will be “Letters of Light,” a sculpture installation commissioned from internationally renowned Israeli artist Micha Ullman. Ullman’s work, anchored in the ancient layers of Jewish tradition and the Hebrew language, will seamlessly combine a profound, conceptual piece of art with a beautiful environmental monument. The gardens will provide a venue for outdoor programs and events and an oasis of tranquility in bustling Jerusalem.

This is the National Library of the future.

Rendering of the new National Library of Israel building, view from Ruppin Blvd.
© Herzog & de Meuron; Mann-Shinar Architects, Executive Architect
The Central Reading Room of the future National Library of Israel
© Herzog & de Meuron; Mann-Shinar Architects, Executive Architect