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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
V 1990 - 2002
Yokneam - New Neighborhood
Usually when a work comes along there are some preliminary hints by phone or on the grapevine before an official contract is drawn up and sent.  That was before the computer became integrated into the Government administration processes.  While I was out on a site visit with Ehud, we had phone call from Eynat to the car to inform us that we had received two contracts from the Ministry of Housing for large planning schemes.

   One was a possibility I thought, but the second must be a mistake!  We got back to the office to find spread out on my drawing board the two contracts.  There was no mistake, both of them were for us.  I considered it an insult!  Usually I would have been told by the Director of the Planning Department of the Ministry of Housing himself.  “David, we have decided to ask you to take on this project as it's a complex task and we feel you are capable of carrying it out”, and I would modestly shrug my shoulders as an indication that maybe I could do the job.  But this time some presumptuous computer had supposedly thrown up my name according to an encoded array of criteria: - the amount of work previously received, the number of office staff, years of experience, record of completing work on time and maybe the colour of my eyes. All this had been fed into the computer and automatically contracts had been extruded from a sterile printer on paper with irritating holes punched on either side, ‘untouched by human hands’, and two of them at the same time, I was doubly insulted.  One stupid computer apparently didn't know what the other computer was doing.  I considered putting them back in their pale green Government envelopes and without a word, returning them to the Ministry of Housing.  The office staff had left me to fume alone in my room, and after a while I calmed down enough to have a peep at the detailed contents of both the contracts.  It was already 1996 and I had almost forgotten my bad experiences in planning the Shderot neighbourhood and the poor little shopping centre. I had to admit that there was nothing like a couple of new commissions to completely wipe away memories of previous disappointments.

   The first new project was a detailed town plan and urban layout for a new neighbourhood in the Galilee and the other, a large section of a New Town to be built in the Jerusalem Hills.  Both of them were located on very hilly sites.  Ever since designing East Talpiot, I had acquired a real love for the challenge of dealing with difficult topographical conditions.  I had also acquired considerable experience in this type of work and it was probably this that had encouraged the Ministry to appoint me as planner for both these projects.  My guess was subsequently confirmed by Carlos Drinberg, the Ministry's Chief Architect.  He calmed my paranoia towards their computers;

    The first project to get onto my drawing board was the new neighbourhood in the Town of Yokneam.  This town was not new to me.  When I served in the Housing Department during the mid 1950's, I had been responsible for some of the first houses in this fledgling young development town. This fact was to become of ironic importance during the planning of the new project.

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