International Convention Center (Jerusalem)

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International Convention Center
Merkaz HaKongresim HaBeinLeumi
Binyenei HaUma
Binyanei-HaUmah.JPG
ICC in January 2006
Location Givat Ram, Jerusalem
Coordinates 31°47′10″N 35°12′10″E / 31.7862°N 35.2027°E / 31.7862; 35.2027Coordinates: 31°47′10″N 35°12′10″E / 31.7862°N 35.2027°E / 31.7862; 35.2027
Owner Jewish Agency for Israel
Capacity 3,104 (auditorium)
Construction
Built 1950–63
Opened 1956
Architect Zeev Rechter
Website
ICC.co.il

The International Convention Center (Hebrew: מרכז הקונגרסים הבינלאומי‎, Merkaz HaKongresim HaBeinLeumi), commonly known as Binyenei HaUma (Hebrew: בנייני האומה‎, lit. Buildings of the nation), is a concert hall and convention center in Giv'at Ram in Jerusalem. It is the largest convention center in the Middle East.[1]

History[edit]

25th Zionist Congress, 1960

Binyenei Ha'Uma was first envisioned by Alexander Ezer (who later became its managing director) and planned by architect Zeev Rechter who won the design competition in 1949.[2]

The complex was under construction from 1950 to 1963.[3] In 1953, it was the site of Israel's first international exhibition, the Conquest of the Desert. In 1960, the World Zionist Organization convened there.

The period of economic difficulty and austerity in the first decade of Israeli independence led to frequent disruption in construction due to lack of funds, and the project was sometimes disparagingly called Hirbet HaUma, the National Ruin.[citation needed] Rechter's design was a solid structure faced in Jerusalem stone. Instead of a monumental relief by artists Joseph Zaritsky and Yitzhak Danziger as originally planned, the facade was covered with azure-coloured glass panels.

Capacity and functions[edit]

International Multi-Cultural Festival with Rev. Dr. Jaerock Lee, 2009
US President Barack Obama waving students after the speech, March 2013

Located opposite the Jerusalem Central Bus Station at the western entrance to town, the centre houses 27 halls capable of seating over 10,000 people, and is a member of the AIPC and ICCA and conforms to their international standards. Its largest hall, the Menachem Ussishkin auditorium, seats 3,104. In all, 12,000 square metres of exhibit space extend over two levels and ten display areas.[4]

Binyenei Ha'Uma is the home of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.[5] The complex has hosted many international events, among them the Eurovision Song Contest 1979, Eurovision Song Contest 1999 and the Jerusalem International Book Fair. The trial of John Demjanjuk was held there.[6]

Development plans[edit]

Plans are being discussed to enlarge the ICC by 30,000 square meters, doubling of the parking space, adding three office towers, commercial space and a hotel.

Cultural references[edit]

The Center serves as a historical setting in Robert J. Sawyer's 1997 novel Frameshift. It serves as a post-World War II venue for a war crimes trial, in which a Nazi camp guard is prosecuted for atrocities against the Jewish prisoners.[7].

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
National Indoor Arena
Birmingham
Eurovision Song Contest
Venue

1999
Succeeded by
Globe Arena
Stockholm
Preceded by
Palais des Congrès
Paris
Eurovision Song Contest
Venue

1979
Succeeded by
Congresgebouw
The Hague