Jerusalem, Israel - Nov. 1, 2021 - A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Tower of David Museum for the new Patrick and Lina Drahi Entrance Pavilion on Sunday evening in the presence of the Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage and Housing and Construction Ze’ev Elkin and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion.
The new entrance pavilion, designed by an international awarding-winning firm Kimmel Eshkolot Architects, will be sunken steel, stone, and glass building built 17 meters down into the earth between the ancient walls of the citadel and the Old City.
The new entrance will provide an easily accessible lobby, a contemporary art exhibition gallery, a coffee shop, an outdoor shaded seating area for groups and individuals, and amenities that are open to the public.
The new entrance plans to integrate the urban development of Jerusalem when the parking lots and planned light rail stop will bring visitors to the Jaffa Gate. The popular “Ramparts Walk” is to be ticketed from the Tower of David Museum.
According to architect Etan Kimmel: “We were set the task of renovating one of the earliest and most important architectural treasures of Jerusalem and with that, we feel a huge responsibility. Working in an archaeological environment is a complex challenge that requires architectural sensitivity and finding unconventional solutions for all Museum needs - combining exhibits within archaeological spaces, accessibility, and solutions for lighting, heating, and air conditioning."
The new entrance is in addition to the $40 million renewal project that is taking place at the Tower of David. The renewal project is being funded by the Clore Israel Foundation, the Municipality of Jerusalem, the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, and the Ministry of Tourism.
Angelina Drahi, Chair of the Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation (PLFA) stated: "We are proud and honored to be a part of this flagship project, the renewal of the Tower of David Museum. For both my family and I, this partnership expresses our profound connection to Jerusalem, the city that is central to the Jewish people, its history, and its roots."
Eilat Lieber, Director and Chief Curator of the Tower of David Museum spoke with the media prior to the opening ceremony held at the Tower of David.
The President of the Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation, Patrick Drahi, is a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique and Telecom Paris. He is the Founder of Altice, a telecommunications, technologies, and media group in Europe and in the US, and owner of Sotheby’s the 277-year-old auction house specializing in fine arts and luxury. His daughter Angelina Drahi has a Master in Computational Science from Ecole Polytechnique in Switzerland (EPFL) and worked for 5 years at Altice USA in New York where she was responsible for mathematical modeling in the data science team. Angelina, the Chairwoman of the PLFA foundation, last year, made aliyah with her husband and daughter.
The entire excavation was carried out as an archaeological excavation in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority who oversaw all the work. Uncovered were a number of ancient walls in the lower layers signifying important archaeological discoveries and leading to a new understanding of the ancient areas around the Citadel. Discoveries necessitated adjustments and changes in the building design during the construction process.
From Ottoman pipes to ancient Jewish pottery shards, pieces of history have been found, recorded, and carefully preserved. The elevator shaft construction has begun. The improvements will make the Tower of David easier to access by all.
The photo essay is from a press tour prior to the opening groundbreaking ceremony to see the site developments. The Patrick and Lina Entrance Pavilion is to be open to the public in November 2022.