Architecture in Israel

Integrating the European and the Middle Eastern.

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Moshe Safdie & Co.

Through the 1970s, 80s and 90s, Moshe Safdie became Israel's first internationally-known star architect. He designed many monumental and public spaces including the Hebrew Union College, The Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem, the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, and the Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv. Safdie's structures elegantly express the perennial tension between past and present in Israeli architecture, creating a unique formal language of white stone, rounded arches, and dynamic soaring exterior walls.

Postmodernism dominated global architecture in the 1990s, characterized by playful references, disjointed structural elements and multiple layers of meaning. The style was all but abandoned because of its frivolity towards the end of the decade, but in Israel, many postmodern buildings demonstrated a great deal of gravitas and significance. The Supreme Court Building in Jerusalem, designed by Ram Karmi and Ada Karmi-Melamede, references not only all of the preceding eras of the city's architecture with elements taken from Herodian, Crusader, Greek, and British buildings in the old city, but it also illustrates several passages in the bible relating to justice. The site of the building is further invested with metaphor because of its position in the city--pointing both toward the Knesset (the parliament) and to the city (the people).

Supreme Court Building

Israeli Supreme Court Building

(JerusalemShots)

Today most architectural design in Israel is influenced by the steel and glass towers of New York and Tokyo, and its infrastructure mimics the car-based urban and suburban sprawl of Europe and America. The Azraeli towers in downtown Tel Aviv have become a symbol of the city's successful hi-tech industries in the 21st century.

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Jessica Kraft

Jessica Kraft is a writer, educator, and artist based in San Francisco, CA.