RAMALLAH, January 12 (JMCC) - A controversial museum to be built on a historic Muslim graveyard in Jerusalem is slated to begin construction in coming weeks, despite an ongoing dispute with its architects, reports the Jerusalem Post
Chyutin Architects resigned from the project in September and is now saying it will fight in court the use of its designs for the project. Officials from the Simon Wiesenthal Center say that building on the Museum of Tolerance will begin once the city issues the permit in several weeks time.
The Chyutin Architects firm resigned from the project in September due to “disagreements over planning,” said Michael Chyutin, one of the partners along with his wife Bracha. MOTJ spokesman Lior Chorev said that the disagreement was over finances.
Chorev added that they did not expect the resignation to affect the project’s progress, which will use the Chyutin design.
“We have the contractual rights to continue with the design, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “A new team of architects will look over this process, but we’re going full steam ahead.”
This is the third time the museum will have to look for an architect. Following the economic recession that dried up donations, the Wiesenthal Center scrapped the original building plan, which was designed by architecture superstar Frank Gehry, in favor of a $150-million cheaper version offered by Tel Aviv-based Chyutin Architects, which was revealed in September of 2010.
Chyutin denied that MOTJ owns the rights to their designs, and said they expected to fight over the issue in court.
“[Resigning from the project] was really hard for us, it was not an easy step. It wasn’t just about a financial loss, it was also losing the prestige of building in an important place and an important building. It’s not every day in your life you get a project like this, but there are lines that an architect needs to know not to cross.”
The museum is expected to take approximately four years to build after the digging starts.
Palestinians have objected to the use of the land of the cemetery, which is an Islamic endowment and was the site of several thousand graves, which have now been cleared. Israel's highest court ruled against Palestinians after a four-year legal battle.