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Culture Square

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Basic Information

Location 32°4′22.99″N 34°46′46.24″E
Country Israel
City Tel Aviv-Yafo
Address End of Rothchild Blvd.

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility yes
Website http://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/english/Documents/Areas_to_Visit%20_2_.pdf
Geographical Coordinates 32.0732,34.77883


General

At the end of Rothschild Boulevard are three of the city's most important cultural institutions: The Habima National Theatre, recently renovated and expanded; the historic Mann Auditorium, home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; and the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, which houses contemporary art exhibitions. Connecting all three is the new Culture Square, designed by artists Dani Karavan.

History and time period

The idea to establish a cultural center was originally proposed in the Geddes Plan, the first master plan of Tel Aviv planned by Patrick Geddes in the late 1920's. Geddes envisioned a kind of a modern "Acropolis", where the city's main cultural venues would be (the center was originally planned to house city hall as well). In the Geddes plan, this would be the cultural core of Tel Aviv, while Dizengoff Square nearby would be a commercial center of a different character. The cornerstone of Habima Theater was laid in 1935. The building was planned by architect Oscar Kaufman in the International style and finished in 1945. The square was inaugurated next to the theater, additional buildings being added only two decades later. Between the 1930's and the 1950's, the area housed an educational farm and urban nursery, with a grove of Sycamore trees. Most of the trees were eventually uprooted (causing public outrage) but two of the trees were integrated into the Ya'akov Garden. On June 28, 1948, seven weeks after the Israeli Declaration of Independence, Tel Aviv was the temporarily national capital of Israel while Jerusalem was under siege. On this day, the IDF was declared the national army, in the presence of the mayor Israel Rokach and the foreign minister Moshe Sharett at a ceremony that took place in the square. The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion of Contemporary Art, planned by architects Dov Karmi, Ze'ev Rechter, and Ya'akov Rechter, was established in 1952. At the same time, the Fredric R. Mann Auditorium was constructed, but inaugurated in 1957, as the home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. When the auditorium was planned, an underground parking lot and an urban plaza were planned too, but due to budgetary considerations, only the northern area of the compound was developed as a plaza. Most of the compound area used as a temporary parking lot. A year after, Habima was declared the national theater of Israel. Thus the importance of the compound as a national culture center was increased. In 1970, the theater was renovated and a wall was built around the southern circular side of the entrance hall.


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