Editorial - Much Ado About Nothing
The competition for the renovation of Kikar Hamedina Square in Tel-Aviv has finally been concluded, with the announcement of Yaski-Sivan Architects as the winners. The competition lingered on like chewing gum and exhausted what remained of some leading architectural firms such as Mann-Shinar, Rothman-Raz, Moshe Tzur, Kolker-Kolker-Epstein and Jean Nouvel. Over the past fifty-two years, the site has been the source of much anguish, beginning with Aba Elhanani, Lotan and Shlushs first proposal in 1951, then Oscar Niemeyer’s realization during the sixties, the appointment of Yaacov Yaar as Head of the Planning Team in 1984, and the recent final stage.
Nevertheless, one still seeks the benefit of this apparent 'victory' to the city, beyond the contribution of this ongoing competition to the entrepreneurs wallet. Yaskis proposal has so far been subject to myriad criticism, yet we strongly suggest that everyone calm down. We are, after all, dealing with a simple process where the client has selected his appropriate architect. In consolation, we should not forget that the proposal is only a conceptual model, five to eight years from its realization. A tortuous bureaucracy of building plans still lies ahead, the exhausting approval and objections process, the probable appointment of a new mayor, the appointment of a new municipal engineer, the possible (God forbid) demise of any of the controlling parties, a further phase in the empowering of younger members of the architects firm, and, especially, the municipality may finally abandon its financial strategy, recognizing the importance of public spaces.
After all, the six towers that appear to look like three are not over - pretentious and their (arguable) aestheticism might just contribute to the city’s outlook. One can recall that many of the complaints regarding the aesthetic aspect are reminiscent of those raised in relation to the Shalom Towers project; today, everyone is willing to admit that Tel-Aviv would not be the same without it. Yet the problem lies in the Master Plan, which is unable (or unwilling) to comprehend what should occur at the point where rampant development meets one of Tel Avivs most important squares.
As we are dealing with a syndrome characteristic of a chronic illness, one may be well advised to examine a common denominator shared by some other failed urban projects, such as Dizengoff Square or the infuriating proposal to elevate the Rabin Square above street level. Its quite obvious at this stage that not even a symbolic depiction of the French Arch of Triumph can conceal the promises made to the landowners. However, Mayor Huldai, should the drive behind this project have anything to do with the Municipal Treasury aspiring to tax profits, relax: the money will make its way to the treasury whether you enslave the entire city or not, for the benefit of a group of clients trying to convert their power into easy profit. This way, at least you might have the chance of enjoying its use during your next term of office.
P.S This project has already been through two Supreme Court cases. Why not give it a third try?
Dr. Ami Ran