Yad Vashem 2001

Following forty years of activity at the Yad Vashem Memorial site a need arose to reorganize and expand the museum complex and to consolidate the building’s entrance system. The new program for the complex, which includes an historical museum, an art museum for temporary exhibitions, and a new reception building containing a Visitor’s Center, was prepared by Yad Vashem. Safdie proposed to reorganize public circulation throughout the 58-acre site, which includes the Hall of Memory, the Valley of the Communities, and the Children’s and Transport Memorials, the latter two designed by Safdie in 1987 and 1995, respectively.

The entry building to the museum complex consists of a series of hollow stone columns supporting a trellis-like roof containing an entry, museum shop, and restaurant. A light steel bridge spans from this entry building to the historic museum. The new museum is an extruded prism structure that crosses the complex diagonally at the centre of site, penetrating like a missile into the depths of the mountain. By carving into the mountain, the uniform height of the building level has been preserved, while also preserving the centrality of the Hall of Memory, which is taller than the other buildings.

The inner structure is that of a triangle with walls that do not meet. The top, which rises slightly above the ridge, contains continuous skylights, which allow daylight to penetrate the interior space. The exit explodes out of the hillside and fans out echoing the structure of the nearby Transport Memorial. An unroofed bridge connects the Historic Museum with the Art Museum. The route continues up the mountain to the Hall of Memory and from there to the Children’s Memorial. The Hall of Names is situated next to the Historic Museum and is provided with a separate access.