When architect Yoav Messer enters the Norman Hotel in Tel Aviv, both staff and guests start greeting and hugging him. It’s clear that he’s a regular, which makes sense as he designed it and his office is only a short cycling distance away. ‘This place is in my veins,’ he says.

In fact, Messer isn’t only the architect of the hotel but also its instigator. It comprises two buildings: one Modern residence by Leo Adler from 1925 and one in eclectic style by Moshe Cherner from 1924. Messer found the dilapidated buildings for the developer, who wanted to establish a boutique hotel. The buildings’ central location contributed to his choice in no small part: they face a quaint little square with the locally famous Pagoda House on the opposite side of the street, and the Rothschild Avenue, with its many bars and cafes, is just around the corner.

In order to make a hotel feasible, Messer excavated the full plot, with both buildings on temporary stilts, in order to make room for a basement floor that now houses auxiliary spaces, connecting both buildings underground. No trace is left in the garden, where citrus trees provide shade to the guests. Messer added a glass wing to the Modern building.

The existing structure and the extension are separated by a narrow, tall atrium with a glass lift that gives access to a rooftop swimming pool, offering a gorgeous view over the city and the Mediterranean. On the roof of the eclectic building, Messer added an extra floor for penthouse suits. Wooden slats on the elevations indicate which parts of the structure are new.