Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A chance is not something that is given. It is something you take.

My very first 'real' job was at T.O.A.M., a small architectural firm in Haifa, Israel. The work done in this firm was not part of the architectural mainstream. On the drawing board were the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute, which "dabbles it feet in the water" (as architect Ram Karmi described it.)  Also, Beit Halohem (The Fighter's Home) which  exhibits "impressive virtuosity in geometric combinations" (as architect Abba Elhanani wrote of it.)

At the beginning of my four years at the firma period which coincided with my studies at the TechnionI was thrilled at the opportunity to learn. But after a while I started to feel uneasy with the limited responsibility I was given, designing various details, such as staircases, railings, and small spaces in Beit HaLochem. 

I went to my boss, the notoriously famous architect David Yanai, who at the time had exposed a corruption scandal in the construction of the project. The public fight which ensued meant that Beit Halochem was already doomed to remain on paper. I was young, and oblivious to this. All I wanted was to take a greater role in the design. I told him, "I want to be given a chance."

He repliedI will never forget it"A chance is not something that is given. It is something you take."

Either way, I came out of that meeting with the chance I wanted: My new responsibility was to design the entire landscape around Beit Halochem, which was to be built on the side of the Carmel mountain, overlooking a breathtaking view of Haifa Bay.

In later years, when I came to visit the site, I saw the skeletal remains of the building, rusting there among the rocks on the steep slope, which is overgrown with thorny, wild weeds. Still, I see in my minds eye is papers upon papers of my landscape design, still rustling there, waiting. And all I can hear are those words, "A chance is not something that is given. It is something you take."


  1. What an interesting answer. Thank you.

  2. It is Sheila, isn't it? I have just found these old sketches of my design, which were done, as I remember, within two days of exhilarating work which followed that conversation, and his words leapt back to mind.

  3. Uvi - this quote you have shared is perfect for me today--one I will not forget--one I will put up on my board and in my inspiration notebook.

    You must have felt ambivalent, looking at the site all those years later--knowing that you designed something beautiful and perfect for it, yet seeing it languish there, with not even the potential of what it could have been.

    And I cannot help but see the irony--the chance you took and chose, and the corruption that someone else did.

  4. Thank you Chailicious for your thoughtful comments. What you said is so true! Yet like you, I find the quote inspirational. It give me a sense of the power to take my destiny into my own hands.