The anti-Zionist paper HaAretz has taken upon itself to demolish the Holyland Project in Jerusalem, tainted by accusations of corruption (by HaAretz). They start by interviewing Ram Karmi, the Israel Prize laureate for architecture, the author of the project.
Do you think that the Holyland building project is Jerusalem's greatest architectural atrocity?Interesting. They used a famous architect to design a concept building - an architectural dream - which he sold to the permitting comittees. Once completed the permitting process, they fired him and took an unknown commercial architect who built a saleable property. The story is starting to make sense.
I think it is a very ugly project, an eyesore. I think that those who carried it out murdered my concept and the buildings I planned.
Who murdered it?
The architects that ended up planing it. Tishbi-Rozin, who built the residences, and we have heard that Moshe Tzur was also involved - he built the towers. When I say that they spoiled the project, I'm not merely talking about how it looks from the outside, which is horrible, and if you examine my plan and compare it with the existing plan you will see the difference in every detail.
So the owner of the plot, Charney, chose you because you are well known and the committees tend to accept your projects?
No. He took an adviser by the name of Shmuel Dachner who advised him to take me. So we planned the project and we went through three committees. I appeared in front of all the committees. I know how to convince committees.
It wasn't simple. There were 800 objections. There were people who were disturbed by the idea that there would be construction on the hill at all. There were green organizations. There were neighborhood committees. All those with objections also got ahold of professional advisers and wrote documents. So we too collected a series of advisers and we wrote a 300-page book in which there was a response to every objection, and I think that eventually they understood that the project was for the good of the entire public.
Did Charney therefore use you because you know how to convince committees and then get rid of you and build something ugly but that pays him a great deal more?
It was not like that exactly. After the permit, Charney needed an investor who would finance the project. He took Kardan and they imposed their own architect.
What do you feel when you see this catastrophe?
From the moment they fired me, I left, and since then I did not return to see what they had done there. That is what I do every time they fire me. This problem with the entrepreneurs exists in all the projects that I build.