This Wednesday (Dec. 21) one of Tel Aviv’s defining moments will take place. Currently the municipality is preparing to disconnect the main fountain in Dizengoff Square. The move includes dismantling of the exterior portion of the fountain, a work by artist Yaakov Agam called Fire and Water, and its temporary relocation to the Reading Station complex.
The preparatory work toward the disconnection is part of a larger initiative by the municipality to lower Dizengoff Square, thereby restoring its altitude to street level. The work involved demolishing the elevated square and reconstructing it as an open, green urban space. Work is expected to continue through 2017, subject to approval from the Ministry of Transportation; the project cost is estimated at NIS 60 million.
Dizengoff Square is identifiable mainly by the presence of the Fire and Water fountain, which was designed by Yaakov Agam. It is one of his most famous works, the one via which he gained international renown. The fountain was installed at the center of the square in 1986 and still constitutes one of Tel Aviv’s most recognizable symbols. The fountain consists of several ridged circles designed with various colorful geometric shapes, and contains an automatic mechanism that, at various parts of the day and night, rotates the circles, sends streams of water in the air in many shapes, spits fire upward, and plays music. During a 2011 renovation the fountain was repainted, although the circles no longer spin.
The square-lowering project also includes replacement of all the subterranean infrastructure, reworked plumbing and sewage lines, installation of new lighting across the square, road repair on surrounding thoroughfares, expansion and repaving of nearby sidewalks, reinstallation of the Agam sculpture, and paving of a bicycle path.
The work will take place in several stages, for each of which residents and business owners in the area will receive an update. Stage 1 will involve the work to lower the square level itself. Stage 2 will see the relocation of the sculpture – this Wednesday’s event. Actual demolition of the square will take place in January 2017, and is expected to take ten days. During this stage the area will be closed to traffic for about 2 weeks, while pedestrian access to homes and businesses will be maintained.
Stage 3, the final stage, will include construction of the new square and installation of infrastructure. This stage is expected to begin in January 2017 and extend for one year. During that time regular traffic routes will operate as before, and safe, convenient pedestrian access to local businesses will similarly remain.
The Dizengoff Square upgrade project is contracted to the Ahuzot Hof Company by the Tel Aviv Municipality.
Apartments in the Dizengof Square area currently sell for an average rate of NIS 45,000 per m². The renovation will result in better traffic flow, exits from coffee shops into the square, and creation of a larger public space. As such it is probable that property values in the area will rise by a conservative 5%.