Jerusalem’s ‘ugliest building’ is to be demolished to make way for a luxury tower

Eleven years after the approval process began, Jerusalem’s “Amir Center”, a so-called “ugliest” building in the city, is scheduled to be demolished later this year.

Also known as the “Shufersal Building,” the seven-story building is located on the corner of Agron Street, facing King George Street and Place de Paris. It is also famous for having the first supermarket in Jerusalem (Hebrew link).

The plot of land was purchased by the Settlements Training Company in 1944, when it was part of the Christian Arab neighborhood of the Princess. The building that stands there today was designed by Israeli-Brazilian architect David Resnick relatively early in his career, in 1958, as part of a complex of three nine-storey buildings along King George Street. Eventually, the other two buildings were shelved, and the Planning and Building Committee rejected the proposal for nine floors, insisting on seven because the Chief Rabbinate was opposed to any building standing higher than Heshal Shlomo on the other side of King George.

The building, completed in 1961, incorporated prefabricated building parts into the standard construction, allowing an entire floor to be completed in one day. A specialized crane was imported from Sweden to help, and in 1963 the construction team was awarded the Kaplan Prize for Technological Innovations.

The building’s facade faces King George Street, its modern style contrasting with its surroundings. Art curator Sophia Caspi Dekel described it as being inspired by Le Corbusier’s influences and the Seagram Building in New York designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

The building rests on V-shaped columns intended to open the ground floor and view from King George Street to the Old Town. Four inner courtyards provide heating and ventilation for what the luxury apartments of their era were – 150 sq m, with three or four rooms, two bathrooms, and a living room of 40 sq m.

Over time, the condition of the building deteriorated, despite its location in the center of Jerusalem, next to what is now known as the Leonardo Plaza Hotel. Balconies have been closed off or converted into storage rooms, and outdoor air conditioning units have also been added.

Resnick himself came to see the building as a neglected “baby” – though it played a key role in developing his career and his global reputation, leading to him being assigned more commissions in Jerusalem. He told (Hebrew Link) Ha’aretz in 2005 that “the building was really revolutionary but from the start there was something unsuccessful in it, bleak…Now it looks terrible. You don’t neglect the child, even if they don’t work.”

He later told (Hebrew Link) to publish in 2011: “It pains me a lot because this building is famous all over the world for its innovations. When I passed there today, I turned my head to the other side of the road. I can’t stand what they did to it.”

Moves to demolish the building began in 2011, and the Jerusalem Municipal Preservation Committee gave its final approval to eviction and demolition plans (Pinui V’Binui).

Amir Center will be replaced by a 30-storey apartment building with luxury apartments.

Committee Chairman, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Elisha Peleg, told local Hebrew-language Mynet news website that “the new tower will improve street visibility and integrate with the massive construction expected along the revitalized King George Axis. It will also add several housing units downtown.” .

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