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The erection of the National Institutions Building in a modern style presented a challenge to the Historicist building concept that was prevalent until then. In the term "Historicism" I mean the various approaches to the past as a source for formulating an architectural style in Jerusalem.15
Another approach espouses continued construction of what was acceptable for generations, which is usually referred to as traditional, and eclecticism, which is to a large degree a continuation of the previous century, which had been unable to invent a new style of its own and its innovation was in the openness it showed in the simultaneous use of various styles by different architects, and even by the same architect in different buildings. The modernism cancels out and principally rejects the use of any borrowed style, and stands in stark contrast to Historicism.
Thereafter, two opposing trends were created in the public construction in Jerusalem. The British had built the governmental and cultural institutions while referencing the historical architecture in Jerusalem, while borrowing elements from the eastern style that was prevalent in the area, with an emphasis on the period of the crusaders' rule over the city. The Jews, on the other hand, primarily built in the modern style and avoided historic references and glued on decorations. The Russian, Italian and German construction was to a large degree the eclecticism that characterized the European architecture of the 19th century.
The style that can be called Historic, continued to be relevant in the 20th century for the foreign architects that operated in Jerusalem. The house of the High Commissioner in East Talpiot overlooks the Old City, and it has hints of Gothic supports and an eastern ceremonial courtyard. The Rockefeller Museum Building, whose construction began in the same period that the National Institutions Building was built and which was inaugurated in 1938, rises above the walls of the Old City via a tower. It has a central courtyard in the spirit of the east, much usage of arches, a combination of Armenian Ceramics that were done by Armenian artist from Jerusalem – all of these were influenced by the British architect Charles Ashbee, the Secretary of the "Pro-Jerusalem Society" and the Secretary of the Jerusalem Planning Committee, who attempted in the spirit of the Arts and Crafts Movement to revive traditional folk crafts in Jerusalem. Most prominent in the Rockefeller Museum are the conservative and outdated exhibit halls. They indicate that the planner of the structure, Austen St. Barbe Harrison, did not aspire to build the last word in Museology, but rather a monumental structure with large dimensions that relies upon historical precedents.
The YMCA Building that was established in the years 1926-1933, was built in the same spirit that guided the British planners. This despite the fact that the American architect that planned the structure, Arthur Loomis Harmon, had built in New York the tallest structure in the world at the time, the Empire State Building, in partnership with the architects Shreve and Lamb, in a modern
15 Regarding the Historicism in Jerusalem see: Michael Levin. "Architecture in Jerusalem During the Mandate: The Historicism versus Modernism". In Yehoshua Ben-Aryeh (editor), Jerusalem During the Mandate: The Work and the Legacy. Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi and Mishkenot Sha'ananim, 2003, pp. 171-186.

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