David Joshua Azrieli, CM CQ (Hebrew: דוד יהושע עזריאלי; May 10, 1922 – July 9, 2014) was an Israeli–Canadian real estate tycoon, developer, designer, Architect, and philanthropist. With an estimated net worth of $US 3.1 billion (as of March 2013), Azrieli was ranked by Forbes as the ninth wealthiest Canadian and 401st in the world.
David Azrieli was born into a Jewish family in Maków Mazowiecki, Poland, he fled Europe during World War II for British Mandate Palestine. Between 1943 and 1946, Azrieli briefly studied architecture at the Technion, though did not complete his studies at that time. He fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1954, he immigrated to Montreal.
In 1969, the heirs of Canadian railway magnate william Cornelius Van Horne put up for sale the Van Horne Mansion in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. A buyer was not found until 1973, when developer David Azrieli bought the land. His intention to raze the mansion was met with fierce opposition from many groups opposed to the demolition spree of the Golden Square Mile, including Rene Lepine, another big-time real estate developer who owned the building next to the Van Horne Mansion and who wanted to buy it back from Azrieli to restore the mansion instead of developing the land. However, Mr. Azrieli remained committed to demolishing the historic landmark, and, during the early morning hours of September 8, 1973, under the cover of darkness, he had the mansion demolished by bulldozers. Montreal residents woke the following morning to a pile of rubble where once stood the proud home. The Sofitel Montreal now stands on the property which is the building Azrieli built.
The Azrieli Foundation was established by David Azrieli in 1989 to support initiatives and develop and operate programs that promote access to education and the achievement of excellence in various fields of knowledge and activity. In addition, David Azrieli established the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University in New York City. An endowment from David Azrieli also helped establish the David J. Azrieli Institute of Graduate Studies and Research in Architecture at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2004.
In 1957, he married Stephanie Lefcourt. They have four children: Rafael, Sharon, Naomi and Dana. Azrieli and his wife resided in Herzliya, Israel, for 5 months per year, and in Westmount, Quebec for the rest of the year. He died on July 9, 2014 in Montreal, aged 92.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that "What you won’t find on either the [Azrieli] foundation’s or company’s websites is that in 2010 the Azrieli Group apparently donated NIS 30,000 to Im Tirtzu" even though the Azrieli group "claims it has no political agenda." The donation was made specifically "to a project to stop the academic boycott of Israel." Haaretz continues saying that "in the past two years, hardly a week has gone by without the [Im Tirtzu] organization appearing in the headlines − often in controversial contexts."