reading power station, Tel Aviv - Haim Taragan
The Reading power station in Tel Aviv, at night. Photo by Haim Taragan
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Israel Electric Corporation has selected architects Avner Yashar and Orit Muhlbauer-Eyal to lead the Reading Power Station preservation project in Tel Aviv. The two won the tender issued by IEC about a year ago.

The project includes the documentation and renovation of the site's historic facilities, including the Reading A generator, an icon of International Style architecture in Israel. Company and municipal officials are considering turning the building into a museum.

The generating station, dedicated in 1938, was named for Rufus Daniel Isaacs, Marquess of Reading, a British Jew who was the founding chairman of the precursor to Israel Electric Corp. The plant was designed as a major component of the company's generating grid, alongside the Nahariya and Haifa stations. When it went on-line it generated a third of the electricity used in British Mandatory Palestine.

The decision to put the generating plant in Tel Aviv was made partly because the founder and head of the company at the time, Pinchas Rutenberg, feared that the disturbances affecting other areas of the country might affect the electricity supply. As with the other company facilities whose construction he oversaw, Rutenberg insisted on the highest architectural standards.

He entrusted the design of the building, with a three-story central tower situated between two identical wings, in the hands of architect Ed Rosenhak. He also created a large entrance to heighten the appearance of the part of the building that faced the city.

The preservation project also includes Reading A, which dates from the 1950s. The bidding teams were asked to submit detailed plans "for the preservation of the main generating hall, Reading A, and its conversion for public use," with plans for Reading B to be submitted at a later date.

Muhlbauer-Eyal is a relatively young architect from Tel Aviv, with experience in building preservation. Yashar is a prominent architect of commercial and high-rise construction.

For the past several years the Tel Aviv municipality has taken pains to obtain possession of the areas surrounding the power plants and make them accessible to the public.

Last year a 60-dunam (15-acre ) park west of Reading was dedicated. The park includes paved paths connecting the Tel Aviv Port to the northern beach boardwalk. City officials hope Reading will become an important cultural center as part of the plans to develop the land parcel north of the power station currently occupied by Sde Dov Airport.

The proposed uses for the Reading facility include museums of electricity, for children or for modern art.

The first stage of the preservation project is scheduled to take 14 months, but no starting date for the work was given.