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Seizing Jerusalem

The Architectures of Unilateral Unification

2017
Author:

Alona Nitzan-Shiftan

Seizing Jerusalem

The first architectural history of post-1967 Jerusalem, revealing the ways architectural modernism and Zionism have intertwined to imagine and reshape the city

This first architectural history of post-1967 Jerusalem chronicles how architecture, landscape design, urban planning, and everyone from municipal politicians to state bureaucrats, Israeli-born architects to international luminaries, competed to create Jerusalem’s new image. Alona Nitzan-Shiftan reveals architecture as an active agent in forming urban and national identity, demonstrating how debates about Zionism affected Jerusalem’s built environment in ways that resonate today.

A rigorous and insightful analysis of the historical, intellectual, and aesthetic encounters and intersections between the two modernisms-in-transition: architectural modernism and national modernism.

Uri Ram, Ben Gurion University of the Negev

After seizing Jerusalem’s eastern precincts from Jordan at the conclusion of the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel unilaterally unified the city and plunged into an ambitious building program, eager to transform the very meaning of one of the world’s most emotionally charged urban spaces. The goal was as simple as it was controversial: to both Judaize and modernize Jerusalem.

Seizing Jerusalem, the first architectural history of “united Jerusalem,” chronicles how numerous disciplines, including architecture, landscape design, and urban planning, as well as everyone from municipal politicians to state bureaucrats, from Israeli-born architects to international luminaries such as Louis Kahn, Buckminster Fuller, and Bruno Zevi, competed to create Jerusalem’s new image. This decade-long competition happened with the Palestinian residents still living in the city, even as the new image was inspired by the city’s Arab legacy. The politics of space in the Holy City, still contested today, were shaped in this post-1967 decade not only by the legacy of the war and the politics of dispossession, but curiously also by emerging trends in postwar architectural culture.

Drawing on previously unexamined archival documents and in-depth interviews with architects, planners, and politicians, Alona Nitzan-Shiftan analyzes the cultural politics of the Israeli state and, in particular, of Jerusalem’s influential mayor, Teddy Kollek, whose efforts to legitimate Israeli rule over Jerusalem provided architects a unique, real-world laboratory to explore the possibilities and limits of modernist design—as built form as well as political and social action. Seizing Jerusalem reveals architecture as an active agent in the formation of urban and national identity, and demonstrates how contemporary debates about Zionism, and the crisis within the discipline of architecture over postwar modernism, affected Jerusalem’s built environment in ways that continue to resonate today.

Seizing Jerusalem

Alona Nitzan-Shiftan is associate professor and chair of the architecture program in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

Seizing Jerusalem

A rigorous and insightful analysis of the historical, intellectual, and aesthetic encounters and intersections between the two modernisms-in-transition: architectural modernism and national modernism.

Uri Ram, Ben Gurion University of the Negev

With Seizing Jerusalem, Alona Nitzan-Shiftan has succeeded in establishing a breathtaking chronicle of the use made by plans, designs, and buildings to implement an agenda of hegemony. This book contributes masterfully to the renewed discussion about the political uses of architecture in the contemporary period.

Jean-Louis Cohen, New York University

Seizing Jerusalem

Contents
Preface
Introduction: Architecture in Action
1. Encounters: Modern Architecture and Israeli Nationalism
2. Profession: East Jerusalem and the Emergence of the Sabra Architects
3. State: Facts on the Ground
4. City: Urban Beautification
5. Frontier: A Holy Testing Ground for a Discipline in Crisis
6. Project: The Western Wall Plaza
Conclusion
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index