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Building freedom………….

March 25, 2013

Exodus Composite

From Benjamin

In the 1960 movie “Exodus”, based on the book by Leon Uris about the reclaiming of the land of Israel and the formation of the modern Jewish state in 1948, the King David Hotel plays an important role as the headquarters of the military under the British Mandate. And what a hotel it is!


Conceived as a palatial, European style “Grand Hotel” by Swiss architect Emil Vogt, who deliberately intended to recall “the ancient Semitic style and the ambiance of the glorious period of King David”, its spacious lobbies were decorated by Gustave  Hufschmid, and were completed in 1931. Taking center stage for a few quick scenes, they show a worldly melange of styles combining motifs from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Africa. Oversized column capitals evoke a Phoenician style; panelling in a smoking room mixes Moorish and Syrian details. Stenciled patterns simulate Islamic ceramic tile. And all of these influences are informed by the sleek and simplifying geometries of the French Art Decoratif.


As the book and film, and the cargo ship that delivered thousands of Holocaust survivors from post-war internment camps in Cypress, all take their name from the second book of the Torah, it is perhaps a fitting stroke of historical compensation that the builders and craftsmen who carried out the construction of the King David Hotel were for the most part, Egyptian.


Happy Passover!

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 25, 2013 8:35 pm

    This is beautiful! A great hotel in the world.

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