The Beirut City Centre Building or 'the egg' - site
2. The Beirut City Centre Building, icon of modernist architecture and icon of the explicit traces of war in Lebanon.
The Dome, Martyrs Square in Downtown Beirut, an old disused movie theater known variously as the dome, the egg, the bubble, the blob, saboune (meaning soap) or by its official name, the Beirut City Center Building. Originally designed by Lebanese architect Joseph Philippe Karam (prominent modernist if the 60s), the dome was built in 1965 as part of a larger, three-part complex of towers and shopping arcades that was expected, in an untimely burst of inauspicious optimism, to become the most important commercial center in the Middle East. The dome has become a symbol of modern design foresight and a testament to Lebanese talent and architecture. It has also become a reminder of the civil war. Pockmarked by years of war and stranded by decades of structural neglect, the dome is a stark visual icon, instantly recognizable as an emblem of 1960s-era modernist architecture, a relic of Beirut's bustling past, an object lesson in the city's tempestuous political history. Now, with the Beirut downtown area renovation and reconstruction, this milestone of Lebanese design is on death-row, making space for the new 600 million dollar Beirut Gate project. It is inevitably going to be demolished, according to all parties currently involved in deciding the building's fate. It is too precious, too odd, too cool, too much of an icon to tear it down. The dome has long been used as an alternative cultural venue, inhabited by raves, parties, temporary art exhibitions and experimental theater programs.