International and local dignitaries and government leaders took part in this week’s cornerstone laying ceremony for the new National Library of Israel (NLI) complex in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin helped lay the cornerstone, under a tent at the corner of Ruppin Boulevard and Eliezer Kaplan Street in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participates in the cornerstone laying ceremony of the new National Library of Israel under construction in Jerusalem's National District. Also pictured left to right:, David Bloomberg, Chairman, National Library of Israel, Yuli Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset, Menachem Ben-Sasson, President, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Photo by Albatross
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participates in the cornerstone laying ceremony of the new National Library of Israel under construction in Jerusalem’s National District. Also pictured left to right:, David Bloomberg, Chairman, National Library of Israel, Yuli Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset, Menachem Ben-Sasson, President, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Photo by Albatross

A copy of the National Library of Israel Charter, a declaration signed by leaders and public officials which marked the launch of the National Library renewal project in 2011, was buried under the cement stone at the ceremony.

The library is located between the Israel Museum to the South and the Knesset to the East, and will serve as a link between the cultural and civic buildings around it.

“The concept of the renewal of the library will allow us to place the National Library in the proper perspective in the country’s cultural fabric,” said David Blumberg, chairman of the National Library. “The National Library will be the most important cultural institution in Israel and the Jewish world.”

The building’s curved, elevated and cantilevered form necessitates a contemporary take on the cut Jerusalem limestone found throughout the rest of the city. Photo courtesy of National Library
The building’s curved, elevated and cantilevered form gives a contemporary take on the cut Jerusalem limestone found throughout the rest of the city. Photo courtesy of National Library

The new library, set to open its doors to the public in 2020, is designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron with the Israeli firm Amir Mann – Ami Shinar Architects & Planners  serving as executive architects.

The library complex is designed as a LEED platinum sustainable building. The building totals approximately 45,000 sq. m. including six above-ground floors comprising 15,000 sq. m., and four below-ground floors totalling 30,000 sq. m.

The library site will also include a native garden with public space and art. Inside, there will be exhibition spaces, cafes, an auditorium, bookstore, youth center, and reading rooms.

Funding for the $200 million project comes from the Government of Israel, the Rothschild family through Yad Hanadiv, and the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman family of New York.

“The National Library will be the most important cultural institution in Israel and the Jewish world.” Photo courtesy of National Library
“The National Library will be the most important cultural institution in Israel and the Jewish world.” Photo courtesy of National Library