The Solel Boneh office building on the corner of HaRav Avida and King George Street is a historic structure by any measure. Lauded by modernist architects, it was designed by the late Reuven Rudolf Trostler and dedicated in 1957. The building served as the main office for the storied engineering firm for decades, but in 1996 the company was sold along with many of its assets — including the landmark site.
In the years since its sale, the Solel Boneh building has remained unoccupied. A magnet for vandalism and graffiti, the derelict building is just one of many neglected structures that pepper the Jerusalem landscape. Its prime location across the street from The Jewish National Fund (KK”L) makes it one of the more noticeable eyesores in the city. Recently, however, that view has been obstructed by a metal barrier and machinery.
With the imminent commencement of construction of the Heichal Shlomo Towers, the building’s worst days may be behind it. Once facing complete demolition, the final plan by A. Spector M. Amishar Architects will spare the front façade of the structure, which will serve as the entrance to a 250-room hotel. The multi-storey tower will include six underground levels for parking, a restaurant and a spa.
Another tower of equal height will be erected behind the hotel and will serve as a 40-unit apartment building.
The initiation of construction represents the first of many changes for the area. Also planned for the block are an office tower for KK”L and another hotel which will neighbor the Leonardo Plaza.
Har Hotzvim was established in the early 1970s to be the leading high-tech industrial park in Jerusalem. Since its founding, it has grown to become one of the largest technological centers in Israel, accommodating offices of billion-dollar Israeli brands like Teva and Mobileye. Over 10,000 people are employed on the campus and its capacity continues to expand.
More Offices, More Tech
Solel Boneh – Israel’s oldest and largest construction company – recently won a tender to construct one of the most ambitious projects in the technological park. Located at 14 E.S. Artom Street, the RAD Tower (named for the RAD Group) will stand a total of 27 storeys and provide an additional 52,000 square meters of professional space to the area.
The building will not be all that it seems, however. Only 17 floors will be used for office space. The remaining ten floors will be underground. Six underground levels will serve as commuter parking and four will host a server farm. The four-storey data center will be the largest in the Middle East and will ensure security for Israel’s cloud-based future.
The 200 million shekel project will be marketed by Index Real Estate and has an optimistic completion date of 2020.
Small road improvements will be made gradually, according to Deputy Mayor Tamir Nir, but with greater capacity will come more automobile traffic. The Jerusalem Municipality is also preparing some major upgrades to the infrastructure in the area including:
Digging an additional entry tunnel between Kiryat HaMada Street and E.S. Artom Street.
Contrary to the planned road improvements, the municipality does not see a future where most commuters will rely on their cars. The blue line of the Jerusalem light rail will eventually be an option for travelers. A 2.2 kilometer underground tunnel running from downtown Jerusalem to the entrance of Har Hotzvim will bypass rush hour traffic, offering a fast and efficient automobile alternative (see the interactive light rail map for more details).