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LA Demolishes Gehry Buildings: Jerusalem Invests $150M to Build One
Frank Gehry design for Jerusalem's Museum of Tolerance
by Judy Lash Balint
Jerusalem Post
September 6, 2005

Amidst all the horror of the news from New Orleans, a small item that affects Jerusalem slipped out of Los Angeles last week.

The Los Angeles Times announced that two California buildings designed by renowned Jewish architect Frank Gehry are destined for the wrecking ball.

One is the Santa Monica Place shopping mall and the other is a building on the University of Irvine campus.

Why does this concern Jerusalemites? Remember the PR blitz last year when California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger blew through town? The Terminator graced us with his presence to take part in the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Museum of Tolerance, a $150 million project of the Los Angeles based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Frank Gehry is the architect for this grandiose idea. The Jerusalem Museum will be a
3-acre campus, encompassing 37,161 sq.m. (400,000 sq.ft) of space and 21,600 sq.m.(232,500 sq.ft) of Gehry designed buildings right slap bang in the center of Jerusalem--not on museum row, where the Israel Museum, Bloomfield Science or Bible Lands Museums now stand, no, the Gehry project will take over part of the northern section of Independence Park (Gan Haatzmaut) and replace the seedy but beloved Kikar Hatulim area.

Back in LA, the powers to be came to the conclusion that after only 17 and 19 years respectively, the Irvine and Santa Monica buildings are no longer functional. "The roofs leak, the ventilation systems are failing and the structures have dry rot.

"Both buildings are deteriorating to the point that they're not adequate to serve the teaching and research needs of the campus," said Richard Demerjian, UC Irvine's director of campus planning.

Hmm...wonder what we'll be saying in Jerusalem in 20 years, when the $150 million museum has fallen apart in the middle of town. Might someone have a word in the ear of the American billionaire donors to suggest a better use for their money in Israel?