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The imperialist construction momentum of the various world powers in the waning days of the Ottoman rule, which was characterized by construction in historical styles combined with the eastern spirit, had ended. In 1927, there was no modern public building in Jerusalem. The decision to hold the competition was made with the thought that architectural competitions would encourage and promote modern quality construction. During these years, there was already a group of architects in the Land of Israel, who studied the subject overseas. The first Faculty of Architecture in the Land of Israel was opened in the Technion two years before. Thus, a successful combination of historical and social factors led to the construction of a modern hostel for the Renewal Movement of the Jewish Yishuv in the Land of Israel. The New Jewish Yishuv's aspiration for modernity in Jerusalem was perceived as opposition to the traditionalism of the Old Land of Israel – the Jewish and the Arab. It also stood in opposition to the national building styles that represented the powers that built the public institutions in Jerusalem: Germany, France, Britain, Italy and others.
The first public building that was constructed in the Land of Israel, following a competition with many participants in 1928, was therefore the National Institutions Building which was planned by Yohanan Ratner, who was not an experienced and well-known architect when the competition was held.1 The building was notable for its clarity and simplicity. At first glance, it appears bereft of any ornamentation and decoration, in the spirit of the Modern Movement. Its form was established by the three wings that were built in stages and was characterized by many rectangular windows. Only few details on the facades of the structure give away its early construction date: The incline of the far wall of the wing that parallels HaKeren HaKayemet Le-Israel Street on the side facing King George Street is reminiscent of a glacis that appears in ancient walls. Several of the arcs on the first-floor openings emphasize the entries to the KKL-JNF Wing and to the Keren Hayesod Wing, and the bars on the doors and narrow cleft-like windows on the second floor. All these create an affinity to architectural traditions that existed in Jerusalem. The courtyard that was created by the central wing of the Jewish Agency and the two wings of the KKL-JNF and Keren Hayesod is similar to an eastern courtyard, but is also reminiscent of the courtyard of Baroque public buildings in France.
The National Institutions Building opens up the unique architectural dialogue that took place in Jerusalem in the period of the British Mandate. On the one hand, it remembers fondly historical styles, sometimes combining more than one period and one style, and on the other hand it is built in the spirit of the modern movement, which is characterized by clean straight lines with large
1 The author would like to thank Guy Jamo of the Central Zionist Archive in Jerusalem for greatly assisting him in locating the documents relating to the competition.

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