The greatest builders in the world dreamed of building it, while the greatest destroyers dreamed of destroying it. Quite a few of them were able to realize their dream. Yet it is doubtful whether anyone ever managed to do in Jerusalem what was done with this bridge – it is difficult to recall a case where something so huge, pretentious, expensive, and arrogant was built for the sake of so little.
First, I should say this: The bridge planned by architect Santiago Calatrava is a spectacular and interesting creation in and of itself. Detached from any other context, in terms of design it is a beautiful bridge. However, no project of this magnitude can be examined in a way that is detached of any context. This bridge would have been a beautiful and successful venture had it been constructed in a different environment, for example, above a river.
This bridge is the kind of luxury that is given as a gift to someone who already has everything. Yet Jerusalem doesn’t have everything. Jerusalem lacks some very basic needs.
The list is well known and it is tiring to repeat it time and again, yet we shall do it nonetheless here: There is no planning for the future and not enough jobs; young people are leaving, the city is poor, and cultural institutions are dying; the most dominant connection between residents and authorities is through parking tickets, the streets are neglected and dirty, and the landscaping is dismal.
Under such circumstances, a pretentious and wasteful bridge, whose inauguration celebrations alone account for more than half of the city’s annual culture budget, is first and foremost a tasteless act.
Someone who builds such bridge for such city is not much different than the parents who raise children who are neglected, dirty, bored, and uneducated, while buying themselves a fancy new sports car.
In short, this beautiful bridge is truly ugly.