Museum of Tolerance architects threaten to quit


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The architects of the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem have threatened to quit two weeks before construction is set to begin.

Bracha and Michael Chyutin made the threat because of "differences" with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the sponsors of the project, Haaretz reported Tuesday, citing a city official. The center "nagged them to death," the official told Haaretz.

The company overseeing the project quit a month ago, also over differences with the center, Haaretz reported.

The  $100 million project, formally designated as the Center for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance, is to include an exhibition space, theater and education center in some 150,000 square feet of space, as well as outdoor gardens and an amphitheater.

Due to the slumping economy, the center’s board of trustees last year drastically cut the cost and size of the project. Its original architect, Frank Gehry, bowed out after creating the design in 2002 for a 240,000-square-foot museum costing $250 million, and featuring steel, blue and silver titanium and golden Jerusalem stone.

Tel Aviv-based Chyutin Architects designed a smaller, less expensive building that includes three floors and two additional underground ones, as well as an archeological garden, with a Roman aqueduct discovered during digs on the site.

The site, which was given to the Wiesenthal Center by the government of Israel and the Jerusalem municipality, had served as the city’s municipal parking lot for more than 40 years. Muslim groups had protested that the parking lot had been part of an ancient burial site.

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