Hebrew Union College

Jerusalem, Israel, 1988

The Hebrew Union College Campus was conceived in the tradition of the Mediterranean courtyard clusters, omnipresent in the Old City of Jerusalem, its traditional “madrassas” and institutional complexes as well as in other cities of the Middle East. Unlike the Northern European tradition of free standing buildings on a campus green, buildings on the Hebrew Union College Campus form one continuous attached fabric, within which a series of interconnecting courtyards form the life and spine of the community, its “living room”, its central communal spaces. In the Northern European tradition open land flows, setting off, as if carved out of continuous mass, separate buildings. By contrast, in the Mediterranean tradition structures are deployed as the building blocks for creating well-defined series of outdoor rooms. The design concept for the College seized on the opportunities of the undulating topography of the site, accessed on one side from King David Street, extending deep toward the east with the dramatic views of the walled City of Jerusalem and the Citadel. As the land drops away from King David Street, the multi-level campus offers the opportunity of weaving together courtyards at many levels, and exploiting the roofs of structures as part of the interweaving of public spaces and circulation. Thus, two principal levels of movement in the Campus are established: a series of courtyards descending toward the east are the center of academic life; rising one level above King David Street is a skywalk which extends as series of protected arcades above and around the courtyards eastward, until reaching roof decks and the Great Hall at Mercaz Shimshon, looking toward the Old City. This is the path of visitors and pilgrims who visit the Campus without observance of the academic activity below. The Campus, completed in 1986, did not include the construction of its principal entry building off King David Street. Thus, for the past decade and a half, a formal gateway to the Campus as a whole, and an important building toward its completeness, has been missing. The new building will be named the Center for Communal and Educational Initiatives. The current construction program includes: New classrooms and a pedagogic workshops; a 250-seat auditorium; a new student club; new faculty offices; and an additional floor for the library which will include Beit Midrash for Israeli and American students. This new structure will be in the spirit of the rest of the campus, with outer stone walls, trellises, and old and new arcades, and will be linked to a building designed by Hans Rau in the 1960s, which will now be called the Synagogue and Administrative Building. Together they will form a new gateway and entry courtyard for the college. A nearby ceremonial courtyard will feature an outdoor cafe, designed to promote social interaction among students, faculty, staff and visitors to the College.

Project Type: Academic

Client: Hebrew Union College

Cost: $32 million

Size: 213000