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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
I 1950 - 1960
Tel Aviv in the Fifties
   Working in Jerusaleme in Klarwein's office had become a pleasant routine, but one afternoon, busy at the drawing board and in a joyous mood that drafting always engenders in me, I was called to the telephone. In the most broken and bazaar English and with a distinctive whine in his voice, a Mr.Ze'ev Rechter wanted to invite me for breakfast at the King David Hotel the following morning at 8:00 a.m. I grasped quickly that this was the architect Ze'ev Rechter, one of the ‘Three Animals’ that Richard Kauffmann had told me about. There was a serious austerity in Israel at that time, and among the scarcities were most items of edible food, as far as I was concerned. Black bread, pickled herring, and vegetables, some of unbelievable categories, were to be had in plenty, but decent food was either unobtainable or severely rationed. Listening to Ze'ev Rechter's invitation on the telephone, I made the connection between ‘place’- the famous five star King David Hotel; ‘ time’- 8:00 a.m. (breakfast time), and the possibility of buttered toast overflowing with a couple of fried eggs, followed by real Hartley's Marmalade. Without asking what the purpose of the meeting was, I agreed to meet him and closed the phone, anxious that if I hesitated he might change the time and venue and I might ‘have ended up with a wretched lemon tea and the usual gravel cake that was served in the cafes in those days.
 
The Hebrew name Ze'ev is 'wolf' in English. Churchill once said of Clement Attlee that he was a sheep in sheep's clothing. Without exaggeration and I say it with no malice, Zeev Rechter was a wolf in wolf's clothing.  His smile somehow told you that you were about to have a fast one pulled on you, but it would not hurt that much and eventually you would be almost grateful. He had heard on the grapevine that a young English architect by the name of David Best had arrived in Israel, trained at Manchester University. Rechter had just won several Architecture competitions and generally had a lot of work. He had gathered together some of the best young architects into his office, immigrants from Russia, Rumania, Hungary, and Poland even one from Brazil.  His son Ya'acov and adopted son and future son-in-law, Moshe Zarchi, had recently graduated from the Haifa Technion. He would top off his office team, with what he would affectionately call me in the future, ‘mine Eenglisher’. 

  “Jerusalem is beautiful”, he told me the following day at breakfast time, “but Tel-Aviv is where it all happens”. At that time most of the Government offices were in Tel-Aviv, presumably waiting for Klarwein to finish off the Government Centre plans. “Tel-Aviv is full of life even in the evening time”, he continued, with a Faustian smile. “In Jerusalem's Rehavia, they are all at home discussing philosophy; you are young, you want to see and be seen". I encouraged his persuasions throughout several second helpings, which only stopped when I agreed to speak to Mr Klarwein. If he would give me a day off in order to visit Rechter's office in Tel-Aviv, I would let Mr. Rechter know.

  Klarwein, a prince of a man, although very satisfied to have me in the office turning out layout plans and longitudinal sections by the kilometer in joyous abandon, understood my predicament. 
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