In the early 1990s, the massive post-Soviet immigration to Israel generated numerous plans for expanding existing urban centers and constructing new cities. One such city was Modiin, strategically located between the metropolitan areas of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The urban planners aimed to embrace the unique topography of the site, characterized by ridges and valleys, and organize the development around strong spinal axes while reducing the reliance on cars in the city center. According to Safdie Architects, the master plan envisioned a green city with landscaped, open communal spaces distributed among different neighborhoods, both in the city center and at the city’s perimeter edge.

The original master plan aimed to gradually build a city for 250,000 residents, starting with the construction of neighborhoods around small commercial centers and green spaces. Modiin quickly became popular among young families due to its affordable housing options, excellent public services, schools, and public parks of varying sizes. However, some criticized the city for its perceived lack of urbanity, considering it a large suburb that depended on employment and shopping opportunities outside its planned urban core. Moshe Safdie urged patience and emphasized the importance of waiting until the city reached a critical mass of residents to support a vibrant and truly urban city center—a place to be enjoyed by people of all ages, at any time of the day. 

In 2014, the urban planners revised the original statutory plan for the city center, which initially had no provision for housing and heavily favored vehicular access. 

In part thanks to the revised plan, Modiin’s new city center has developed into a unique and vibrant mixed-use central business district along a central linear park, inviting people to experience urban living, combining work, shopping, and enjoyment of the open spaces that constitute the new civic heart of the city. 

An integrated design approach to sustainable planning was central to the landscape design: providing shade, reducing urban heat islands, and harvesting all drainage run-off. Four rows of Plane and Jacaranda trees form the green structure of the boulevard. The central promenade of the linear park is framed by lush plantings, acting as rain gardens in the winter months while providing optimal growing conditions for the trees. 

With the design of the central linear park, we wanted to first and foremost break the dichotomy of providing separate places for shopping and outdoor recreation.

Pedestrians and bicyclists take priority, as vehicular access is limited to a single traffic lane in each direction. Along the sidewalks, continuous planting strips act as a green buffer between pedestrians and bicyclists while collecting rainwater runoff during the rainy season. The central promenade of the linear park offers water features, shade structures, seating areas, and five restaurants/coffee shops. The mornings see people shopping or exercising. Around noon the eateries and bars on the sides are starting to fill up, continuing their business into the late hours of the day. After school and kindergarten at four o’clock, families collect around the various water features, with mothers and kids cooling off, chatting and relaxing. Quieter places attract teenagers and senior citizens to catch up on social media or real-time life. During holidays, the boulevard hosts street festivals and special events.

Only three years after its completion, the boulevard has become a source of civic pride and enjoyment. The project serves as a case study for new sustainable urban development and attracts regular visits from representatives of other municipalities. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from residents and the city itself stands as a testament to the success of this new contemporary city center.

Location: Modiin

Client: The Modiin Economic Development Company

Team: Barbara Aronson, Ittai Aronson, Ayehlet Cooper, Daniel Shorer, David Gruss, Avi Sror, Omri Ben Chetrit, Alon Schwartz, Alla Basnovati.

Please write / fill below, where possible.

Name of the project: Modiin new city centre

Project category you wish to submit to: Public projects

Location: Dam HaMaccabim St, Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut

Design year: 2016-2017

Year Completed: 2020


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