Ministry Of Culture, City Hall Make Plans For Bucharest

City Hall, Palace Hall, Opera, National Theater.

At a news briefing held yesterday by the Ministry of Culture and Religious Denominations, Minister Adrian Iorgulescu informed the press about his conversation Monday with Bucharest Mayor Sorin Oprescu. Equally, Adrian Iorgulescu described the stage reached in the implementation of the projects to rebuild the headquarters of some major cultural institutions.
According to the culture minister, who is a member of the National Liberal Party, his meeting with Sorin Oprescu was prompted by an initiative of Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu; in that conversation, Iorgulescu and Oprescu focused on several issues of Bucharest's cultural infrastructure and urbanism. Adrian Iorgulescu called the conversation "extremely fruitful."
These are some of the covered topics: obtaining real estate for the Omnia Hall of the Operetta Theater and for the planned "cultural Mall" at the Palace Hall; approval of the projects for these two projects, as no recommendations for them have been received yet; the concession of 14 buildings in the old Bucharest center for activities of the National Alliance of Creators' Unions; approving the project for the Holocaust Memorial; and the City Hall's purchasing the building where the Union of Plastic Artists used to function.
Adrian Iorgulescu communicated to Sorin Oprescu the Culture Ministry's point of view on the old center area: to turn that zone into a pedestrian-only area, to reconstruct all the local edifices that belonged to the national patrimony, and to redraw the area "vertically," so that the historical layers would be visible on top of one another (possibly, Minister Iorgulescu suggested, by building glass streets).
Another project of the Culture Ministry concerning the old center area is to rebuild 14 buildings that will be offered as concessions to plastic artists and will function as cultural centers – exhibition halls, cafes, music shops, theaters, and book stores.
According to the minister, the buildings in question have already been identified and there are no mortgages on them, so the City Hall will purchase them, restore them with the help of the Culture Ministry, and then offer concessions on them to the unions.
We asked Adrian Iorgulescu whether those institutions, seen as obsolete and irrelevant by some of the currently active artists and intellectuals, are the ones that should get headquarters in the old center: there, rock clubs, private cafes, old book stores, sports and youth stores, and stores selling tools to artists are the active entities.
According to the minister, since the National Alliance of Creators' Unions has been the only entity to request those spaces, the minister has granted it automatically.
Minister Iorgulescu has also suggested to the Bucharest mayor to adopt the Parisian model of urban development, namely to conserve and restore the older urban structure and to build the new, tall buildings in special areas, which are separated from the old city and currently without buildings.
As to the current stage reached in implementing the projects to rebuild the cultural infrastructure, more precisely the headquarters of some cultural institutions defined as being of national importance, Minister Iorgulescu says there is a significant delay in implementing those projects. The difficulties that have emerged, says the minister, have to do with intricate procedures – canceling contracts and complaints that have been filed –, and this is not the fault of the Culture Ministry.
Also, they have completed the assessment of the tenders for the National Library of Romania: SC Rotary Constructions SRL and Associates was the selected company. The contract is worth approximately 78 million euros and the deadline for the completion of the work is 33 months.
These are some of the Bucharest buildings included in the major projects that are ongoing with the Culture Ministry – they are either in the process of being designed, or their design and execution projects are being selected: the National Art Museum of Romania, Antipa Museum, the Romanian Opera, the National Theater, and Omnia Hall.
Romania libera, August 6, 2008

Translated by Monica Voiculescu

by Ştefan Iancu