The Azrieli Foundation announced that it is making a $1 million gift to the Faculty of Architecture at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in honour of the 85th birthday of the world-renowned architect, developer and philanthropist, David J. Azrieli, Canadian Technion Society Honourary Life National President.
“As a professional David Azrieli has been the driving force behind the development of innovative projects in Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva and Jerusalem as well as across North America,” explained Arnold M. Ludwick, President of the Canadian Technion Society. “From the beginning – before his business success – David has been a symbol of tzedakah, giving back to the community by devoting considerable time, energy and financial support to worthy causes. A key focus has been institutions of higher learning including Concordia, McGill, Carleton, Yeshiva University in New York, Tel-Aviv University and of course Technion.”
David Azrieli’s experiences as a student at the Technion in the 1940’s clearly influenced his decision to contribute generously. “The years I spent studying architecture at Technion in the 1940’s were not only formative to my career,” explained Mr. Azrieli, “they provided a new stability and a sense of family after the losses I sustained in the war. On the occasion of my 85th birthday, I am delighted to give back to Technion’s School of Architecture. I do not think it an exaggeration to say that I am what I am today thanks to Technion.”
David Joshua Azrieli was born in 1922 in Makow, Poland. At the start of World War Two in September 1939, he left for Russia where he managed to stay one step ahead of the Nazis for three years. The story of how he survived and made his way to British-mandate Palestine in late 1942 is chronicled in his memoir, One Step Ahead, (published in 1999 by Yad Vashem). After arriving in pre-state Israel, David worked on a kibbutz, studied architecture at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, joined the Haganah, served as an officer in the Seventh Brigade during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, and participated in the liberation of Jerusalem.
David Azrieli arrived in Canada in 1954 and two years later began his building career with the modest construction of four houses in a Montreal suburb. Today, his unparalleled success in the building trade is measured in the imaginative office buildings, high-rise residences, office towers and shopping centres he has built in Canada, the United States and Israel. In each case, he conceives the idea, designs the plan, and builds the building which then remains under his ownership and management. Among his innovations is the construction of the first enclosed shopping centre in Israel, the Canion Ayalon in Tel-Aviv, which sparked a consumer revolution that has changed the way Israelis shop, products and services are merchandised, and properties are developed.
Over the years, David Azrieli has received many awards and honours. In 1984 he was awarded the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian order, in recognition for his contributions to the economic, social and cultural development of the National Capital region. In 1999, he was named “Chevalier” in the Ordre Nationale du Quebec. In 2002, he was invested as a “Ne’eman” or Honorary Trustee of the City of Jerusalem.
This is not the first time Mr. Azrieli has contributed to Technion. In 1984 he endowed The Azrieli Chair in Architecture and Town Planning. He served as National President of the Canadian Technion Society for many years and is currently the organization’s Honorary Life National President. He also sits on the International Board of Governors of the Technion. In 1985, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the Technion.
Mr. Azrieli also supports many other causes in education in both Canada and Israel for which he has been recognized. In addition to the Technion, he holds honorary Doctorates from Concordia University, Yeshiva University and Carleton University. He sits on the Board of Governors of Tel-Aviv University and the Shenkar School of Engineering, and is a member of the Board of the Israel Museum. CJN STORY l TECHNION FAST FACTS