The Knesset Building in Giv’at Ram - Planning and Construction
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The Knesset Building: Additions
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The Knesset building. 1966

The Knesset Building: Additions

Following the publication of the article "The Knesset Building in Givat Ram: Planning and Construction",1 additional information was received, and several corrections made on the issue. The additional information was received from William (Bill) Gillitt, a British architect and a university friend of architect Ram Karmi, who took part in the planning of the Knesset building in the years 1960-62;2 from Hans Ruegg, a Swiss architect who worked with Klarwein in 1960, and was then employed by Ma'atz on the detailed plans of the Knesset building in the years 1961-84;3 and the engineer Eliezer Segal, a Solel Boneh old age pensioner, who was employed as the works manager of the Knesset construction project in the years 1960-66. 4

The U.S. Embassy building in Athens, planned by Walter Gropius

In addition to the interviews with these persons, several albums of photographs were received from Gillitt. Some of the photos were taken by Gillitt at the building site, and others are of plans and models, which he had prepared in the years 1960-62. Most of the models were of the early plans for he plenary hall, of the Chagall hall, and for the external walls and columns of the building. Gillitt also presented several photographs, which Ruegg had taken at the building site in 1963, at the back of which Ruegg had written Gillitt a letter, and an eight millimeter film, which he had shot on the site. Segal offered several photographs that he had taken after the construction of the building had been completed, including color photographs from the original interior design by Dora Gad, of the Speaker's office, and the closed section in the Members' dining room.

1 Cathedra, No. 96, Tamuz 5760, pp. 132-69.
2 Gillitt, a non-Jewish Englishman, who was born in Chile (his father was engaged in railway construction in that state in the 1930s), studied architecture in London in the 1950s, together with Ram Karmi. In 1958 Karmi invited him to come to Israel and work in the "Karmi, Melzer and Karmi" office in Tel Aviv. Gillitt worked on several projects in the office (inter alia the planning of the Kameri Theater, the completion of Habimah, and the planning of the offices of the Institute of Standards), and in the beginning of 1960 prepared, together with Ram Karmi, the new plan for the Knesset building. After the plan was accepted by the Implementation Committee, he started to work as an employee of Ma'atz, as coordinating architect of the Knesset project. He left the project at the end of 1962, after the detailed plans of the building had been completed and approved, and settled in the United States with his Jewish wife. Today he lives in Newton Massachusetts. The interview with Gillitt was held in Cape Cod in the United States, on September 26, 2000.
3 Ruegg, a non-Jewish Swiss, arrived in Israel in 1959, following a lecture by Moshe Shertok, that excited his imagination. He started to work for Joseph Klarwein in the summer of 1960 on the Jerusalem central bus station project. Ruegg left Klarwein after less than a year, but turned to him again in the summer of 1961 with a request that he help him find work, when Klarwein suggested that he join the team working on the Knesset project. He got to know Gillitt about a year before the latter left the country. Ruegg returned to Switzerland after his son, who had been born in Israel, reached the age of four, and because he was not satisfied with the atmosphere on the project. In Zurich he served for many years as the city's Chief Architect. The interview with Ruegg was held in Zurich in Switzerland on December 1, 2000.
4 It was Prof. Avraham Diskin from the Political Science Department at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who as a youth had been employed by Solel Boneh for a summer job at the Knesset site, who gave me Segal's name, and the names of several additional persons from the Solel Boneh team. The interview with Segal was held in Jerusalem on November 13, 2000.


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