eli attia architect

Reason, not whim






Architect Eli Attia

Biographical summary

I designed some of the most critically acclaimed and best recognized tall and large buildings in the world.

Upon moving to Chicago from my native Israel in 1968, I joined C.F. Murphy Associates (now Murphy/Jahn), where I served as senior associate for design. In 1970, I moved to New York and joined Philip Johnson /John Burgee Architects, where I served as Chief of Design for 10 years.

Equal parts architect and conceptual engineer, I brought to Johnson/Burgee three things — advanced technical knowledge of the kind of machines tall and large buildings are; a cultivated architectural sensibility for how to 'shape' these buildings to minimize their environmental impacts, maximize their economic effectiveness, and strengthen their aesthetic contributions; and a deeply felt architectural obligation to make urban life better by optimizing all three in his building designs.
While at Johnson / Burgee, I led the firm to explore the possibilities of shaping as an architectural strategy for unlocking the urban, economic, and aesthetic potential of tall and other large buildings.

I designed a series of buildings that have been critically acknowledged as instrumental in redefining the modern skyscraper. Among the most famous of these is Pennzoil Place (1976) in Houston. Pennzoil — which  the New York Times selected as the “building of the decade” — was the first skyscraper to break the quintessential 'shoe box' form that had dominated tall building design since the end of World War II.

Also during this period, I designed the Rev. Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral, a 3,000-seat, all-glass, single-span, columns-less, single-room structure in Garden Grove, California; 101 California Street, in San Francisco, the first commercial office building to successfully implement a round footprint and many others.

Shortly after opening Eli Attia Architects in 1979, I designed 101 Park Avenue in New York, NY.  Writing in The New York Times, Ada Louise Huxtable called the 50-story building, which marked the beginning of the modern expansion of Park Avenue south of Grand Central:

“...[A]n exercise in the kind of creative quality that until very recently has been absent from the New York scene... the volume is used to produce the ‘economically efficient’ structure the builder wanted, at the same time that the architect has raised that requirement to notable levels of art and urbanism. Mr. Attia... has produced architecture at its most elegant, controlled, abstract and precise.”

Also in the 1980s, I designed the Republic National Bank World Headquarters — now the HSBC Tower — at Fifth Avenue and 40th Street, the Millennium Hilton Hotel, across from the World Trade Center site and the major modernization of New York Hospital.

In the 1990s, I designed the Shalom (now Azrieli) Center in Tel Aviv, Israel — a mixed-use development that is the largest development in Israel’s history. Also in Israel, I designed the Junction Tower, the Market Commercial Center, and the Holon Commercial Center in metropolitan Tel Aviv, the Middle East Trade Center and Dania Towers Near Haifa.

In the 2000s, I designed Point Wells near Seattle WA, a ‘New New Urbanism’ — an entirely novel approach for a large scale, mixed-use, most environmentally sustainable, high-density development.

  • I won all my major commissions in design competitions.
  • My office was rated the most efficient architectural firm in the US in terms of aggregate project value per employee, by the trade magazine Corporate Design & Construction.
  • I was a member of the Steering Group of the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
  • I have lectured at Harvard and Columbia Universities, the Smithsonian Institute, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and as keynote speaker at the World Congress of the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in Hong Kong.
  • My work has been exhibited at the Israel National Museum in Jerusalem and at the Louis Meisel Gallery in New York’s SoHo.
  • My work has been featured in many global publications as well as in several films and TV shows.

During the past 20 years, I have diverted my focus towards improving the quality of the built environment by inventing technologies that take “ground-up” approach to change the ways in which buildings are designed, constructed and utilized, enabling the creation of better quality, unique in appearance buildings that are less costly to build, faster to market, and vastly more environmentally sustainable:

Engineered Architecture (EA) technology revolutionizes the design and construction of tall and other large buildings by introducing, for the first time ever, advanced manufacturing processes and unique appearance, prerequisite for the creation of viable communities and thriving cities;

Roundhouse Technologies (RH l, ll & lll) addresses the small to large structures for creating a wide variety of building forms in response to differing climates, cultures and terrains:  from single family dwellings to the needs of more population dense regions (residential, commercial, educational, recreational, etc);

Super Tall Buildings Technologies (ST, STB, MTB) introduce breakthrough in structural design and construction techniques that enable super tall buildings to reach record heights without the structural cost premium associated with such buildings.

There was no going back after that.

The early years

Early in life, I was captivated by an image in a magazine showing how New York’s skyline has been changing over time.

Having lived in a town where time stood still — where I walked the same streets that my ancestors walked on two thousands years ago, and where the tallest buildings were 2.5 stories high — I was introduced to the concept that cities, like living organisms, are dynamic.

And I fell in love with their building blocks — the tall buildings.

It changed my life.  I wanted to know all I can about them;  I wanted to be involved in making them;  I wanted to live among them.

I joined BSMT — a technology high school the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) had created as preparatory school for providing hands-on technological basis for the future architects and engineers.

What followed was my service in the Israeli army, which enhanced my technological basis in being involved in converting old WWII equipment — tanks, other military vehicles & heavy weaponry systems — into a new, higher performing standards. My military service was culminated as a captain in the 1967 six-day-war — responsible for the mobility of the armed forces, and for their weaponry readiness on the Golan Heights — where I introduced new standard of operations that are still in practice now, 50 years later.

I graduated the Technion's Architecture & Urban Planning, in 1963, and co-founded TOAM, an architectural design and research firm.

In 1968, my passion brought me to America. I was so ready that within three months I found myself designing a hundred-story office building in Chicago’s Loop.