Gerard Heumann

A relatively successful plaza self-destructs

Public squares constitute the primary life-giving meeting spaces of our neighborhoods. About to destroy one of them is the L- shaped six story building now going up over the lower parts of Ramat Beit Hakerem’s commercial center, designed by Architect Amatzia Aaronson.
Not considered at all are the heavy shadows that will be cast over the plaza every morning and late afternoon like a dark cloud over this important space. As can already clearly be seen, the significant volume of his new building will make the plaza appear much smaller Views from the existing retirement home directly opposite will be severely impacted as well.
Although this plaza -“private open space”, was not well-designed, its cold marble seating concealing ventilation of the parking garage below, its seating evenly distributed and lacking interest, it served as the main meeting place in Beit Hakerem for tens of years, its restaurants and cafes almost always at full capacity.

Proposed here is that the neighborhood’s building committee which approved this project be disbanded, its chairman and so-called neighborhood urban designer, both mainly political, sent flying. It is simply impossible to name a single successful building project in Beit Hakerem, an historic century-old neighborhood, executed over the last two decades.
And while the Denmark Square renovation was professionally executed, it dealt essentially with cosmetics, the need for an underground park and ride garage adjacent to the light-rail and bus stations as well as the critical connection to Gan Harishonim called for in the great architect Richard Kaufmann’s original plan, not dealt with.

Scratching ones brain, the only successful project in the neighborhood one can point to over the last twenty years is the informal open library on Hechalutz Street adjacent to the historic Beit Havaad building, made of wood, and which cost next to nothing.

Incompetent and inept, mainly loyal to themselves and the system they are part of, most senior bureaucrats have held their posts for decades. There’s absolutely no one in the municipality’s management or District Committee to turn to. In the world turned upside down which we live, all boils down to nothing more than money and power.

Real-estate markets need morals and morals aren’t made by markets. Rubinstiein Corporation, the owner of this complex, has here demonstrated a total lack of respect for the people affected by their decisions.

Architectural design has all-important moral aspects never to be ignored.

Gerard Heumann – Architect and Town Planner, Jerusalem has been a resident of Beit Hakerem for 38 years.

About the Author
Gerard Heumann is an architect and town planner in Jerusalem.
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