A Life Takes Wing

A Life Takes Wing

The Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv, Israel, is a museum and cultural center memorializing the life and times of the former Israeli Prime Minister who was assassinated in 1995.  The major elements of the complex are the Great Hall and Museum on the East, the Library and Research Center on the west, and a two-story arcade connecting them along the ridge of a hill in the northern part of the city.  The very square masses at either end are topped with fanciful curved shells, like billowing white sails, or wings.  The website of the architect, Moshe Safdie, describes them as “a series of undulating, curved, shell-like elements, overhanging and shading the glazed walls and reflecting diffused light inwards.”

These undulating curves were, reportedly, not computer generated, but derived from a freeform handmade model. They were originally designed in steel and concrete.   Mick Eekhout of Octatube proposed an alternative method of construction using an FRP sandwich with a foam core.  In order to construct such large curved panels – as big as 20m x 30m – technology was borrowed from sailing ship hulls.  The eventual design utilizes a double skin, each 7mm thick containing seven layers of glass fiber fabric in polyester resin binder.