Tel Aviv looks to the skies

Tel Aviv's planned Azrieli Spiral Tower
Tel Aviv's planned Azrieli Spiral Tower

In the coming decade, the current tallest buildings in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Givatayim will be dwarfed by a new generation of high-rise developments.

Over the past decade the number of high-rise buildings in Tel Aviv has risen by 50%, and this number will now double over the next decade. Tel Aviv’s skyline, which has changed so much in recent years, will change even more dramatically, as tall towers overlook the fondly preserved smaller buildings of the pre-state city.

Construction began on the Shalom Tower, Tel Aviv’s first skyscraper, in 1959 and was completed in 1965. The tower was 31 floors and 120 meters high. In recent years three more floors of apartments were added. In those years the 13-floor El Al building on Ben Yehuda Street and 17-floor Hilton Hotel on the seafront were considered high-rise.

It took a long time before the Shalom Tower lost its status as Israel’s tallest building. Developers in Tel Aviv gradually built slightly higher in the 70s and 80s with Beit Clal (21 floors), the Sheraton Hotel (22), Amot Investments Tower (24), Dizengoff Center (24)and Kibbutz Artzi Tower (26) falling well short of the iconic Shalom Tower. The 29-floor Isrotel Tower near the seafront came closest but it was further east along the Ayalon Highway that new peaks would be reached. In 1999 the Azrieli Center Round Tower (49 floors) and Triangular Tower (48 floors) were completed, moving high-rise building in Israel up a gear.

Two years later the 40-floor City Tower (Leonardo) was completed in the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange district and a new rivalry between Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan was begun. Shortly afterwards the 68-floor Moshe Aviv Tower was completed in Ramat Gan, which remained the tallest Israeli building until 2017 when the Azrieli Sarona Tower was completed in Tel Aviv. Although Azrieli Sarona has only 61 floors, it is 238 meters high, compared with Moshe Aviv Tower’s 235 meters.

Running both buildings close is Givatayim’s Hi Tower, on the border with Tel Aviv, which has 60 floors and is 220 meters high. But today’s tallest buildings are set to be dwarfed in the coming few years.

Today’s tallest buildings will seem lower tomorrow

Today’s top ten tallest buildings in Israel are likely to be ranked between ten and 20 in the next decade, depending on the pace of progress in development and construction. "It is already not so exciting to talk about 100-floors," says Israeli architect Avner Yashar, the owner of Yashar Architects, one of Israel’s leading architect firms, which among other things designed the Landmark and Da Vinci high-rise towers in Tel Aviv.

The biggest changes in the coming years will be focused on several locations. Firstly, there is the line in north central Tel Aviv overlooking the Ayalon Highway, which already includes the three Azrieli Center towers, Midtown Towers (50 floors) and Hatza’irim Towers (46 and 40 floors). The most prominent towers that will join these are the Azrieli Spiral Tower (91 floors) and Beit Egged (65 floors).

The second area in Tel Aviv is the Kirya and Sarona, which already has the Da Vinci Tower (44 floors) and Azrieli Sarona (61 floors). In planning is a 60-floor tower in the southeast Kirya (the final height has yet to be decided) and the 80-floor Keren Hakirya Tower.

A third area in Tel Aviv due for major office tower development is the former industrial area along Yigal Alon Street, on the eastern side of the Ayalon Highway. Already in this area are the 40-floor twin Alon Towers, the 47-floor Electra Tower and the modest but distinctive 27-floor ToHa 1 Tower. These will be joined by the 80-floor ToHa2 Tower and the 65 floor (not finalized) Tara Tower.

A fourth location for high-rise development is the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange district, where Moshe Aviv Tower will be dwarfed by new developments. "There is no serious planning and policy person who does not understand that if there is one place in Israel that will become an international trade center - it is the Diamond Exchange district. It is suitable in terms of size, location, proximity to public transport and links. There is no such place even in Tel Aviv," says Ben Mayost, Ramat Gan Municipality’s strategic projects director. In the next decade, it will be difficult to recognize this district, which is changing rapidly, as the previous generation of towers is overshadowed by the new generation.

At least seven projects are currently being built of 88-floors and more in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Givatayim: Diamond Exchange Tower 1 (120-floors); Vertical City Tower 1 (106); Bein Arim (Between the Cities) (100); Azrieli Spiral Tower (91); Diamond Exchange Tower 2 (88); Vertical City 2 (88); and Beyond (88).

From offices and residential high-rises to mixed use towers

Today residential towers, especially towers with expensive apartments, are accepted in Israel as a luxury lifestyle choice. However, this is a relatively new phenomenon that was alien to the nation’s 'founding fathers.' Previous generations of towers in Israel were mainly used for offices and hotels. The pioneer in luxury residential living was 26-floor Gan Ha’Ir, which was completed in 1981 by City Hall in what is now Rabin Square. The 24 floor Dizengoff Center tower was completed in 1986 but it was only in the 1990s that the market saw the full potential for residential towers and high-rises such as the Basel, Opera, and the Tel Aviv tower were built. It was not until the 2000s, when the three Akirov towers were built on Pinkas Street and Park Tzameret was built, that residential towers began to be integrated into Israel’s planning and design landscape.

However, the future, whose buds can be seen today, holds further developments for use of high-rise buildings in Israel. A tower today no longer needs to be defined as an office building, or a residential building, but can have a mix of uses. On the ground floor there can be commercial space, above them offices, with the upper floors used for apartments. The buds for this could already be seen in the Moshe Aviv Tower, where the 12 upper floors were allocated as apartments. In Shalom Tower, three residential floors have been added. In the south of the Diamond Exchange district, there are office and public buildings and 1,750 housing units will be built there.

But the future will hold a different type of mixed-use as Yashar explains. His office is currently designing "Migdal 120" - a 120-floor, 520-meter high building that will be constructed by D-Mall near the Tel Aviv Central Savidor Station by Arlozorov Street. This is one of three high-rise buildings being developed near the Diamond Exchange, with the other two only having 88 and 77-floors.

Yashar explains, "The accepted way with very tall towers is to divide them into several towers one on top of the other, and in this case three of 40 stories. The issue is the elevators - the first 40 floors are taken up as usual with express elevators to the lobby known as the Sky Lobby on the 41st floor. There people change elevators for the next 40 floors to the next lobby, and there they change again." In Sky Lobby, public areas, shops and cafes will be established, a type of mixed use that does not exist today. "Getting to your apartment in a 100-story tower takes longer than in a 30-story building," explains Yashar. "In such cases, public areas are also created high up. If you want to refresh yourself a little, you don't have to go down. The tower is so big and so many people live in it that you can also have a small supermarket, a cafe and all kinds of services that the tower can provide in addition to what we are used to today."

According to Moshe Tzur, the owner of Moshe Tzur Architects and Town Planners, one of Israel’s leading architect firms, which designed Azrieli Sarona, Amot Atrium and Midtown and is a partner in designing the Azrieli Spiral Tower, the new towers are, "A type of vertical city that can have all types of uses. Usually, the upper floors will be for apartments or a luxury hotel. In the mid-floors there could be sheltered housing, apartments for rent and offices, and at the bottom commercial space and between the different parts of the tower there are also public floors and uses for serving the community using the building. Ultimately, you will see a city or neighborhood converging into a 100-floor tower.

"You can see this tower as a machine. There are sets of elevators that serve each part; there are 'shuttle' elevators that quickly transport people between the lobby and welfare areas and from there are local elevators that go up to the floors. It's like a main street in the city that divides into secondary streets, until you reach the parking lot. You will not take one elevator that will take you 100 floors. You would never get to the top."

Parking? Forget about it in the new towers

You’d better forget about the underground car parks that exist beneath the existing high-rise buildings. The new towers, which will be twice as large, will not include such car parks.

"All the new projects are based on people not arriving in cars," says Yashar. "If it was based on cars, not only would they have to allocate a huge amount of parking, but also roads, and there is no inclination to do that. On the contrary. The large towers in the Diamond Exchange district are based on not adding roads to what exists today. The whole plan of the Diamond Exchange district radically reduces the number of cars. The standard there is four cars per thousand square meters, which is nothing. Getting to these places will be done by scooters, bicycles and public transport."

Professionals all agree that public transport is the weakest link in the story. It is easy to set modest parking standards, but to back them up with developed public transport is the real challenge, and the state, for now, is not meeting the challenge. Bus and railway services are not meeting demand and the light rail and the metro are lagging behind. The result: we may reach a situation where the new giant towers will be occupied but without adequate transport support. "The gap stems from the fact that cutting parking spaces is an administrative decision, while developing public transport is a planning and implementation challenge on a different level," says Yashar.

Tzur, on the other hand, takes a different approach. He says, "In the tower in which you live, work and welcome guests - you don't leave it, nor do you take the car out of the parking lot. This, in contrast to the old theories of division into zoning, which is based on the separation between places of residence, work and recreation that require roads, infrastructures, carbon emissions and pollution. As long as the uses take place within the neighborhood or in the tower, there is no need to use vehicles. In addition, the number of employees who do not live there is small anyway."

Be that as it may, the concern still exists, especially regarding the Diamond Exchange district. Ramat Gan Municipality’s Mayost is aware of this and says "Just as 10 and 15 years ago we did not imagine there would be e-scooters and bicycles, I believe that reality will find a solution to the problem. However, the directorate that I lead deals with creating transport solutions, some of them are familiar like small autonomous buses and some of them are unique." He refused to specify what those unique solutions are, but said that they are checking them out and will publish their findings in six months.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on May 14, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Tel Aviv's planned Azrieli Spiral Tower
Tel Aviv's planned Azrieli Spiral Tower
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