Head of National Library sacked over ‘Blob’ dispute
The dispute over the design of the new National Library building by renowned Czech-born architect Jan Kaplický came to a head on Tuesday, when the minister of culture, Václav Jehlička sacked the head of the National Library and the new design’s fierce supporter Vlastimil Ježek. He confirmed that the move was connected with the dispute over the new library building.
The design for the new National Library building was chosen as the winner of an international architectural competition. The futuristic green-and-purple design, nicknamed the Octopus or the Blob, was controversial from the very beginning. Politicians argued over its eye-catching design and the competition rules that enabled Mr Kaplický to win.
Speaking at a news conference to announce his candidacy for the Senate, he said he hoped this fact was not related to his dismissal:
“I hope it was just a coincidence. But it’s true that it was the only information about the library that was published over the past five days. The Minister of Culture did not specify the reasons for my dismissal. He only expressed his thanks for the work I did during the four years in office, but I don’t agree with the reasons stated in the ministry's press release.”
Despite his dismissal, Mr Ježek says he will cooperate with Pavel Hazuka, director of the National Literature Museum, who has replaced him as the head of the National Library. He will also continue to support Kaplický's project:
“I will continue to express my opinions concerning the unique design for the national Library building, not as an architect, but as a librarian. And I will comment on what other people say about the library. I would actually say that in this respect, I have more freedom now than I had yesterday.”
Vlastimil Ježek is also convinced that in spite of the latest events Prague will eventually see a new National ibrary building.
“I don’t know what it will look like or where it will be built. Four years ago no one knew that there was a need to have more space for books. I would say that even those who were against the project and against the architectural competition don’t doubt today that there is a need to build a new National Library building.”