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Mears & Chaikin - model_edit

Model based on plans for the Hebrew University by Mears and Chaikin, 1928

Dr. Diana Dolev of the Holon Institute of Technology in Israel is writing a book about the development of the Hebrew University campus in Jerusalem which will include a reassessment of the architectural collaboration between Frank Mears and Benjamin Chaikin from 1925 to 1929.

Dr. Dolev teaches architecture at the Holon Institute and researches the relationship between national identity and architecture.  In 2000 she was awarded a Ph.D. for her thesis on the influence of nationalist ideology on the masterplans prepared for the Hebrew University between 1919 and 1974.  She has written on architectural orientalism in the Hebrew University and the militarisation of the university campus on Mount Scopus.

In 1919 Patrick Geddes and Frank Mears were engaged by the Zionist Organisation to prepare a scheme for a Hebrew University.  In 1925 Geddes and Mears began to collaborate with Jerusalem-based architect, Benjamin Chaikin, on the preparation of the detailed architectural drawings required to realise the scheme.

Material relating to the involvement of Geddes, Mears and Chaikin in the development of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is now distributed between a number of institutional collections, including the Zionist Archives and Hebrew University Archives in Israel, the National Library of Scotland, the Geddes collections of Strathclyde and Edinburgh universities, and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland.  In the 1990s, Volker Welter prepared a comprehensive catalogue of the material from Geddes’ Cities Exhibition held by Strathclyde University.  Currently, Grant Buttars of the Special Collections Department at Edinburgh University is working on a programme of cataloguing, conservation and digitisation of the Geddes material held in the Edinburgh and Strathclyde collections to make it more accessible and facilitate dissemination.

With these resources to draw upon, Dr. Dolev’s work offers the welcome prospect of a much fuller understanding of what Geddes, Mears and Chaikin were seeking to achieve in their work on the Hebrew University.  It is expected that her book will be published in the autumn of 2015.

See my article, A Vision of Zion, from the Spring 2000 issue of the Scottish Review.