International Panel Endorses Plan for Proposed Jerusalem Park

An international committee of town planners, architects, historians and art scholars have endorsed plans for the creation of a 600-acre park around the old walled city of Jerusalem. The committee was organized last year by Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem and held its first meeting here last week.

The committee numbers 72 persons from 21 countries. Among the 42 attending its first session here were Prof. Bruno Zevi, a town planner from Italy; Prof. Gaston Wiet, a French expert on Islamic art; Isamu Noguchi, the Japanese-American sculptor and landscape designer; and Sir Isaiah Berlin, the Oxford historian. They agreed on plans for the park which would radically alter the approaches to Old Jerusalem and have a profound effect on residents of the area. The committee insisted that Jerusalem be maintained as a “living city” and not turned into a museum or “stage-setting.”

When the experts arrived here last Monday, Mayor Teddy Kollek asked them to forget politics. He noted that Jerusalem has had countless rulers over the last 3,000 years and that it had to be cared for and preserved no matter what the political situation was. Mayor Kollek explained that he organized the committee because the rehabilitation of a city holy to three faiths should not be left to decisions by Israelis alone. The committee members called on their “Moslem brothers” to join the advisory body. But the Arabs declined to accept the invitation.

The proposed park would be designed to set off the city’s walls, built under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1530. In some sections the walls extended 50 feet below the earth and the rubble of centuries. Wherever feasible, they would be exposed to their full height when the park is constructed. Plans for the park, which would cost in the neighborhood of $3 million, were drawn up by the National Park Authority of Israel. They call for the continued use of stone or stone-facing in construction and retention of traditional forms such as arcades, domes, flattened domes, shingles and metal grillwork. A section of the rehabilitated area would contain hotels and other commercial facilities.

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