Historic building demolition now near Phoenicia hotel

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If you hurry, you might be able to get a glance of this historic facade before it is gone.

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The demolition is taking place on a small alley next to the Phoenicia hotel called Hyram street, behind the hotel’s security barricades, where few may have noticed it.

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Luckily, I was there a few weeks ago, and fearing the worst, I took some pictures. Here is what it used to look like:

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Finally here’s a view from the top street:

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The building seemed to be in pretty good shape, considering the circumstances. So why was it not preserved?

If anyone knows more about it–the building’s age, owner, legal status, architecture, etc.– please comment below and I will update the post.

And remember, always take pictures of old buildings. You never know when your images could be the last ones.

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UPDATE 28/11/14

One day later and the building is almost completely erased:

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Interestingly, one commentator below noted that the previous structure would be “completely rebuilt” by a firm called “Nabil Azar Builders Design Consultants.”

Yet a quick look at the renderings of the new building on their website reveals in fact only one facade will be ‘rebuilt,’ but even this will differ significantly in terms of arches, balconies and the entrance. See photos above for comparison:

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8 comments
  1. Thanks Rana! Very interesting. I wouldn’t say it being rebuilt though, I would say something new is being built there. There may be some inspiration from the previous structure, but physically it is radically different–the only ode to the past is the facade but even this is not a reconstruction. The arches are different, the central balconies are gone and the ground floor/entrance with cool art deco-ish overhang (see 7th picture) is also removed, at least according to the site you sent.

  2. Habib, you make a great point about them not actually preserving anything (as opposed to the building on Abdel Wahhab al-Englizi just before Tsunami restaurant). Yet, on the site Rana linked to, they say they will preserve the facade specifically on orders of the Ministry of Culture: “The expression of the project is driven mainly by the requirements of the Ministry of Culture of Lebanon to keep the facade of the old building, with a touch of Contemporary design.” Seems they’re not exactly sticking to that. Also, wonder what they mean by “the project has a human scale”…..

    1. Interesting Matt, this sheds light on the decision-making at the Culture Ministry. The question is who is making these decisions and on the basis of what criteria.

  3. I do nt understand what s the whole fuss is about..concerning Beirut s high rising skyscrapers…yes it s is like fencing the seaside and somehow Claustrophobic to the rest , but let the inhabitants of Beirut be happy, at least one good thing may this result is that they ll get protected from any Tsunami like natural disasters that hits Asia once a while.. remember Harb Al FANADEQ Holiday Inn and all around the Hotel.. war ?? during the 15 years conflict .! where high rising skyscrapers like AL MURR ( kantari )& AL RIZK (Achrafieh) exchanges.. that , took the… street fighters to a HIGHER levels and stratigically much convenient than street to street combats…..So let them build and build ….even Babylonian look alike towers, why panic and get annoyed… Just relax folks!!

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