After a stormy session, the Tel Aviv Urban Building Committee yesterday approved the controversial renovation plan for the Frederic R. Mann Auditorium. The plan was first presented last year, and won the support of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Tel Aviv municipality. Strong public opposition caused repeated postponements of the plan’s approval.
Disputes erupted over the planned renovation between the planners and Tel Aviv preservationists and cultural personalities. The municipality, which is behind the renovations, claims that the old building suffers from severe acoustic problems, and, with all due respect for preservation, the building’s primary purpose is to serve the public. It adds that without thorough renovations, the Mann Auditorium would be unusable. Some members of the Philharmonic Orchestra supported this argument.
The Tel Aviv municipality also argued that the renovations involved only minor external changes to the building, that the building was not included in structures for strict preservation, and that the renovations were necessary.
Preservationists, architects and cultural personalities claimed that the municipality had promised UNESCO, when the latter declared Tel Aviv White City as a World Heritage Site, that no changes would be made to buildings in the plan. The opponents also claimed that the planned renovations in the auditorium, and changing its shape from a fan to a rectangle would make one of Israel’s cultural symbols unrecognizable.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai expressed his satisfaction at the committee’s decision, saying, “The public has had its say out of its concern for Tel Aviv and its wish to preserve the Mann Auditorium.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on September 4, 2006
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