The Top Ten

The Most Influential People in Israeli Architecture

1. Dr. Binat Schwartz, 50, head of the Interior Ministry's Planning Commission

2. Tal and Gidi Bar Orian, 53 and 54, architects

Since Nitza Szmuk founded the preservation unit in the Tel Aviv municipality in the 1980s, dozens of architectural firms have been established that have addressed, directly or indirectly, the implications of the "White City" declaration. Bar Orian Architects, founded in 1990 by the husband-and-wife team of Gidi and Tal Bar Orian, has consolidated its status as a leader in the realm of urban renewal, preservation and additions to buildings. In recent years, the firm's style, characterized by a cautious interpretation of the International Style exterior, has played a large role in defining the face of Tel Aviv, and has extended its reach through other firms that have adopted the same approach.

3. Moshe and Yigal Gindi, 65 and 63, respectively, real estate developers

Colorful spotlights, glassy-eyed puppies and young people with broad smiles without the Gindi brothers, we wouldn't have known how much fun it can be to buy an apartment. There are bigger developers, such as Gazit-Globe, but the Gindis burst into the public consciousness thanks to their choice of central locations and vigorous branding. They became synonymous with prestige that was just a mortgage away. Consider the Sarona high-rise in Tel Aviv, OAK in Ramat Hasharon and the towers of the former wholesale produce market in Tel Aviv: were it not for the different logos, one might make the mistake of thinking they were a single cloned project.

4. Yosefa Davara, 48, Be'er Sheva city architect

In recent decades, Israel's seventh largest city has suffered from architectural negligence, despite its rich heritage. But no longer. New voices have been emanating from the capital of the Negev, demanding recognition, and rightly so. Yosefa Davara and her team operate under mayor Ruvik Danilovich and alongside the city engineer, the preservation architect and the director of the Old City project to create a fusion of new construction while examining ways to preserve the Old City and the local Brutalist architecture.

5. Ilan Pivko, 64, architect

Is it a missile? Is it an observatory? No, it's a Pivko tower. In the past few years, after transforming his name into a prestige brand known to all, Pivko has hurtled into the middle-class residential market. His colorful figure and willingness to cooperate with marketing witticisms, such as the peculiar slogan "Life according to Pivko," associated him with showboat architecture. But there has been a change; now we have "Pivko" in residential areas in Netanya, Yavneh and Rishon Letzion.

6. Eran Neuman, 45, architect, head of the Azrieli School of Architecture, Tel Aviv University

Israeli centers of architectural studies have undergone leadership changes in the past five years. The appointment of Dr. Eran Neuman, like that of his counterpart at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Yuval Yaski, marks a new trend in the direction of young architects and active planners. In the past few years, the emphasis at the Tel Aviv University school has been on digital architecture, but the graduation exhibitions of the past three years spread across the city and with a finger on the pulse are showing the public that architecture is everyone's business.

7. Einat Kalisch Rotem, 43, architect, Haifa mayoral candidate

The municipal elections are just around the corner, and the incumbent mayors are fidgeting uneasily in their chairs. One possible change is on the cards in the person of an architect who has a planning vision to renew Haifa, a city that suffers perhaps more than all the others from shelved architectural dreams and wasted design potential. Backing Einat Kalisch Rotem is a Haifa-based group of architects who are awakening from years of development slumber and want to become more involved in the community.

8. Tal Alon-Mozes, 56, landscape architect, deputy dean, Technion Faculty of Architecture

The field of landscape architecture in Israel is undergoing extensive academization, in the course of which the complex subject of the Israeli space is being dealt with and discussed. This trend is embodied in the person of Prof. Tal Alon-Mozes, who until not long ago headed the landscape architecture department of the Technion and was the founder of its master's program. Internationally, landscape planning heads the planning agenda; the areas of expertise that exist in academe form a broad basis for the practical work.

9. Emily Silverman, 50, researcher, member of the Coalition for Affordable Housing

The social-justice protest movement of 2011 aroused only a faint echo within the architectural community. At most, there were a few short-lived initiatives that did not leave an imprint. Dr. Emily Silverman is one of the founders of the Coalition for Affordable Housing, which was established to cope with the housing crisis and to furnish the public with studies, reports and economic models of alternative housing options.

10. Oded Rozenkier, 35, and Shachar Lulav, 43, architects, SO Architecture

A year ago, the open competition to design the Nature Museum in Jerusalem was won by a collaboration between a young architectural firm, SO, and an experienced architect from an established firm (Gaby Schwartz, of Schwartz Besnosoff Architects). This was a quantum leap for SO, a firm that was founded in 2007 in Kibbutz Sha'ar Ha'amakim and has since been engaged in integrating ecological approaches into contemporary planning. For Jerusalem it represents a new local architecture, which is exactly the reason to hold open competitions to design public structures.

Nitzan Hermoni
daniel tchetchik