Jerusalem’s Old City is defined, in part, by the many gates that break up its outer walls. Having borne witness to countless important events throughout history, the portals are carefully preserved and kept by the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA).
As part of their continuing mission to restore and beautify the Old City, the JDA will invest ten million shekels towards the renovation of the New Gate at the western section of the northern wall. Once completed, the area will serve as a pedestrian mall, creating a place for residents and tourists to shop and eat.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2017.
After being painstakingly numbered by hand, the bricks of the Solel Boneh building are being removed one-by-one. In a practice known as facadism, the face of the old structure will be rebuilt into the entryway of the new Heichal Shlomo Towers.
The numbering system has been used effectively in the past, most notably on the historic buildings at Mamilla Mall.
The new business district at the entrance to Jerusalem is one step closer to fruition after three international architecture firms presented their ideas for the project before a municipal committee this week. All three of the plans would completely change the appearance and function of the two square kilometer area around the International Convention Center.
The Portuguese PROAP Group presented a plan that focuses on an ecological design meant to reflect the deep roots of the city. Massive palm trees and olive trees define the space, providing shade and contributing to the urban ecosystem.
The plan from TOPOTEK 1, a German company, envisions Jerusalem as an international city. A message of unity is delivered through a space that offers an abundance of trees and seating areas, as well as ample walking and biking zones.
San Francisco based firm Gensler aimed to present the many layers of Jerusalem in its design. Historical, political, social, and religious elements are reflected in a “town square” proposal that is surrounded by various layers and heights.
The planned addition of nine towers, as well as some substantial infrastructural changes to the area, will carry an estimated cost of 1.4 billion shekels. A visualization of the project can be seen here.
Jerusalem Construction News recently revealed the municipality’s plan for the addition of the light rail on Emek Refaim as part of the future blue line. Since then, a vocal but small group of individuals have spoken out against the plan. Local shops and homes have become a platform for an anti-train campaign, with signs petitioning passersby to help prevent the addition of the line to the once-popular street.
It is not outside the realm of possibility that the vocal minority will have an impact on the municipality’s decision to go forward with their proposal and therefore it is incumbent upon those who are in favor of the project to make their voices heard. As a result, I have created a petition for all those in favor of the light rail on Emek Refaim and the positive effects it can have on the street. These include:
- A reinvigorated economy. It is no secret that Emek Refaim is slowly dying. Many long-standing businesses have closed and more continue to leave the street in favor of greener pastures. It is debatable as to why this is occurring, but the addition of the light rail will bring more people to the street and create improved walkability and openness. The Yafo model has proven this.
- A cleaner and greener experience. Emek Refaim is used as a main artery for commuter traffic, but it was never designed for this purpose. As a result, the street struggles to find its purpose. Is it a place for pedestrians and neighborhood shopping or is it a road for cars, trucks and other heavy polluters? The addition of the light rail will define the street by making it a streamlined pedestrian experience with an abundance of greenery and cleaner air.
- A safer environment. There is nothing more disconcerting than having to share a road with cars and busses barreling down at 50 kmh. Pedestrian safety is paramount, but often it feels as though the cars are favored on the street. The fact that the town recently renovated the asphalt on the road but left the cracking and obstructed sidewalks is proof of this.
- A future-ready reality. Perhaps the most compelling reason to implement the alternative public transit option is that cars are not the future. Citizens globally are being weaned off of cars and the question of when it happens is reliant solely on brave and unpopular decisions made today. Applying the old way of thinking to a future project is harmful. As the city grows, a car-reliant model will create worse congestion, parking issues, pollution and numerous other problems.
When considered rationally, the light rail is a good decision. It will greatly benefit the local businesses and residents of Emek Refaim, and its branching streets, in the long run.
Please sign the petition to show the municipality and local council that you are in favor of the addition of the light rail on Emek Refaim.