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© Tim Griffith
© Tim Griffith
© Itsik Marom
© Amit Geron
Completed in November 2002, the new building that houses Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs not only had to convey the right kind of welcoming impression, but it also had to meet the strictest security standards. The team chosen in a competition held in 1996 to build this new ministry was Kolker, Kolker, Epstein Architects of Jerusalem, in cooperation with A. J. Diamond and Donald Schmitt of Toronto. Construction work started in 1997. The site for the new Ministry of Foreign Affairs lies in the government district of Givat Ram in Jerusalem. In total the complex covers almost 40,000 square metres. On the south side is the country’s High Court of Justice, and in close proximity, the parliament (the Knesset) and the Bank of Israel. The new structure had to integrate into the surrounding development, but its design should suitably and distinctively reflect its function as a government building. Accordingly, the curved stone facade of the main building takes its cue from the other government buildings while the roof, supported on just a few columns, seems to float freely above the glazed ministerial offices on the top floor. As all the departments and employees of the ministry had to be accommodated on this one site, total space requirements were very high. If all this space were to have been provided in a single building, the effect would have been intimidating, so the architects decided instead to create a complex of different volumes. The design reflects the hierarchy within the establishment: the main ministerial building stands out against a background of a simple, functional office blocks. Between them is the reception building and the auditorium. The oval-shaped approach to the main ministerial building manages to look inviting, despite tight security and high walls.