|Alternative names||Clal Building (Hebrew: בנין כלל)|
|Architectural style||Modern architecture|
|Address||97 Jaffa Road|
|Town or city||Jerusalem|
|Height||56.03 metres (183.8 ft)|
|Design and construction|
Clal Center (Hebrew: מרכז כלל, Mercaz Clal), also known as Clal Building (Hebrew: בנין כלל, Binyan Clal), is a 15-story office tower and indoor shopping mall on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, Israel. Completed in 1972, it was the first upscale, indoor shopping mall in Jerusalem. Built as part of a plan to revitalize Jaffa Road, it enjoyed a brief period of high occupancy until many tenants relocated to malls and office buildings in new suburbs in the 1990s. It is widely viewed as a commercial and architectural failure.
The Clal Center is located at the southeastern corner of Jaffa Road and Kiach Street, one block east of the Mahane Yehuda Market. Its northern facade faces Jaffa Road and Davidka Square, while its southern facade faces Agrippas Street. The building has several entrances opening onto Jaffa Road, Kiah Street, and Agrippas Street, as well as an underground parking garage accessible from Kiah Street.
Alliance Vocational School campus
The land on which the Clal Center stands was formerly part of the campus of the Alliance Vocational School (Kol Yisrael Haverim School), the first Jewish trade school in Jerusalem. Founded in 1882 by the Alliance Israélite Universelle of Paris, the school occupied 17 dunams (0.017 km2; 0.0066 sq mi) of land and consisted of a main building surrounded by long workshop buildings and landscaped gardens. Enrolling mostly Sephardic Jewish students, the school offered courses in tailoring, shoemaking, carpentry, blacksmithing, mechanics, engraving, sculpting (of stone, wood, and shell), coppersmithing, weaving, dyeing, stonecutting, and masonry. Most of the school buildings and garden were razed in 1970 to make way for the Clal Center.
In 1976 a memorial to the demolished school was placed to the side of the Clal Center, facing Jaffa Road. The memorial consists of a decorative iron gate etched with the name of the school in French. The gate is mounted between two stone pillars. The gate is not standing in its original location.
Another memorial to the destroyed school appears a few dozen meters west, in the form of a mural in the Mahane Yehuda Market parking lot. This mural depicts paintings of the main building and garden, and pictures of teachers and students.
The Clal Center was envisioned as a means to increase commercial activity and foot traffic between Mahane Yehuda Market to the west and the city center and Ben Yehuda Street to the east. According to Jerusalem architectural historian David Kroyanker, the Clal Center was "the first attempt to create a luxurious roofed shopping center in Jerusalem". It was also the first project to have an additional wing. The city granted the planners "exceptional building rights" in the hope that the project would boost business and commercial activity on Jaffa Road.
The Clal Center reflects the 1970s trend in Israeli architecture that moved away from small-scale buildings toward projects that contained "everything under one roof". The Clal Center was designed by Israeli architect Dan Eitan, who planned many large-scale public buildings and office towers in Israel, notably in Tel Aviv.
The commercial levels in the Clal Building are exceptionally large, with space for stores and a cinema. The commercial space surrounds a large, central atrium. Originally the atrium was open-air, but weather damage forced planners to install a semi-transparent roof. Several banks of elevators access upper-floor offices.
Because of the building's height, the Clal Center quickly became a popular venue for suicide jumpers who leaped from the upper-story windows. Rescue nets were subsequently installed on the outside of the building; these nets are still in place today.
After the Clal Center was erected, a popular legend sprung up in Jerusalem that two criminals had murdered a third and buried him in the concrete foundations of the Clal Center. Some speculated that people interested in the project's failure started the rumor.
The Clal Center enjoyed a high occupancy rate from government offices, businesses, and private companies until the mid-1980s. The construction of Malha Mall and government facilities at Givat Ram precipitated the exodus of many private and government firms in the 1990s, leaving entire floors of the office tower unoccupied. Stores on the commercial level also began closing due to lack of customers; today, many stores are used as storerooms by Mahane Yehuda Market merchants.
Current tenants include the following government offices: Israel Police Accidents Division – Jerusalem District, Ministry of Transport and Road Safety, Ministry of Justice Corporations Authority, and the Collection and Enforcement Agency. Other major tenants are the CityPass Jerusalem Light Rail customer service center, and branches of Bank Hapoalim and Israel Discount Bank.
In 2011–2012, as part of the conversion of Jaffa Road into a pedestrian-only zone, a small parking area between the Clal Center and Jaffa Road was redeveloped into a public square. The project, costing over 4 million shekel, added a granite pavement, public seating, trees, and decorative lighting.
Almost from its inception, the Clal Center was the target of criticism. Some critics decried the decision to demolish the historic Alliance Vocational School in order to build the project in the first place. Others pointed out that the style and height of the building were incompatible with typical low-rise Jerusalem architecture in the surrounding neighborhood.
Kroyanker notes that the building has not aged well; some of the stone tiles have fallen off and the rest appear weather-beaten and grimy. Inside, on the commercial levels, the "maze" of staircases that connect the levels are difficult to navigate, and the "wide granite surfaces create a very mournful effect". Poor lighting and parking accessibility have also been cited as problematic. Eitan, the architect, candidly added the Clal Center to a 1992 Israeli exhibition titled "Bad Jobs".
The goal of increasing foot traffic and business activity on Jaffa Road never materialized. Several attempts were made to increase foot traffic, such as the construction of the Windows residential tower next door, but to date nothing has been successful and the project has been deemed a commercial failure.
Kroyanker contends that not only did the Clal Center fail to revitalize Jaffa Road, it "actually accelerated its degeneration". In particular, he points to the lack of anchor stores, the lack of continuity of small businesses, and the cessation of activity in the stores and banks in the Clal Center in the early afternoon for making the project "a typical Jerusalem commercial failure".
In July 2013, a man entered a law office in the Clal Center and shot dead a father and daughter legal team over an apparent business dispute.
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- Kroyanker and Wahrman (1983), p. 302.
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- Kroyanker and Wahrman (1983), p. 303.
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- Maniv, Omni (3 October 2010). תבוא קללה על המקום: המקומות המקוללים של ירושלים [Come Put a Curse on the Place: The cursed places of Jerusalem]. Maariv (in Hebrew). Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- מרכז כלל: הקניון הראשון בירושלים שנבנה בשנות ה-70 [Clal Center: Jerusalem's First Shopping Mall Built in the 1970s] (in Hebrew). Jerusalem Municipality. 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
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- מידע והנחיות לנפגעי תאונות דרכים [Information and Guidelines for Road Accident Victims] (in Hebrew). Hadassah Medical Center. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- משרד הרישוי ירושלים [Jerusalem Licensing Bureau] (in Hebrew). Ministry of Transport and Road Safety. 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- צור קשר [Contact Us] (in Hebrew). Ministry of Justice. 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- לשכת ההוצאה לפועל בירושלים [Office of the Collection Agency in Jerusalem] (in Hebrew). Collection and Enforcement Agency.
- "Customer Service". CityPass. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- סניפים [Branches] (in Hebrew). Bank Hapoalim. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- "Israel Branch Locator: Clal Center". Israel Discount Bank. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
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- Weiss, Efrat; Vaked, Eli (12 June 2003). "16 הרוגים ועשרות פצועים בפיגוע בירושלים" [16 Killed and Dozens Wounded in Jerusalem Attack]. Maariv (in Hebrew). Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- Hasson, Nir (23 July 2013). מאבטח ירה למוות באב ובתו במשרד עורכי דין בניין כלל בירושלים [Security Guard Shot and Killed a Father and Daughter in a Law Firm in Binyan Clal in Jerusalem]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- Kroyanker, David; Wahrman, Dror (1983). Jerusalem Architecture, Periods and Styles: The Jewish Quarters and Public Buildings Outside the Old City Walls, 1860–1914. Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. ISBN 9652610194.
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