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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
II 1960 - 1970
Opening a Private Office

    Opening my own office and becoming a self-employed architect was certainly the beginning of a new period in my professional life.   The previous one, which had started with my first job with Jacob Kalter in Jerusalem, came to a close, with my letter of resignation to David Tanne, the director of the Department of Housing of the Israeli Government. During those seven years of my employment as an architect, there were several different and colorful episodes.   There was however an essential continuity in the way that each period had helped me in different ways to develop my architectural skills in order to achieve what I considered to be an acceptable level of professional competence. In my last job I had headed a large group of professionals and had dealt with unusually large planning projects. Becoming a private architect naturally made a dent in my self-esteem. Now I would have a tiny office with one partner, Adam Eyal whom I had known since we both worked in Rechter's office, and a single part time secretary/draftswoman.  I tried to believe that I had moved back a few steps in order to sprint forward with a new enthusiasm and achieve a much more authentic professional status. To some extent my last position of authority had come too soon. I rationalized that a period of modesty and self-reflection was probably a good thing.  We rented a basement in number 9 Bloch Street in central Tel Aviv; a stone’s throw from ‘Kikar Malkey Israel’, the city square of the architectural competition for which I had won a prize seven years before.  I considered the location a good omen.  I moved in my drawing board and equipment from my home into the new office, Adam did the same, and with four chairs, some bookshelves and a telephone, we were, as the Americans succinctly put it, ‘in business’. Adam had one job and I had one promised to me.  In the first week both disappeared.   In spite of a looming financial disaster, I had rarely felt more alive and full of hope since the day I decided to come to live in Israel.  Until now, as much as I had been involved in large architectural and planning projects, I had neither the personal responsibility nor the credit for them.   I now felt that the only thing that could satisfy me was the experience of seeing the physical reality of my own designs in endeavouring to realize the "built criticism" of much that I had considered was wrong with the present Israeli housing policy.  But as I sat in the cold basement office of Bloch St. 9 in the winter of 1958, I also realized that the profession of architecture was a vast continent. My seven years apprenticeship had only qualified me for the status of a young explorer, and it was now the time to embark on the long journey into its complex interior.

  In a similar way that a child learns to walk by small tentative steps and if unsuccessful is able to pick himself up and start again, my private practice began with a minuscule commission.  It was a flower shop, but in one of the main shopping streets of the great metropolitan city of Tel Aviv; Dizengoff Street, no less!  When I call it a flower shop, I may be guilty of exaggeration.


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