Building the Holy Land

The Fellowship  |  September 9, 2020

Richard Kauffmann designed Israeli Prime Minister's residence, 1938
Richard Kauffmann designed Israeli Prime Minister's residence, 1938

Born to a Jewish family in Germany in 1887, Richard Kauffmann studied architecture there, and then in Amsterdam. World War I cut short Kauffmann’s career, however. Fighting on the Eastern front, Kauffmann witnessed the already atrocious persecution faced by Europe’s Jews.

After the war, Kauffmann received an invitation to design new Zionist communities in then British-mandate Palestine. He made aliyah (immigrated), bringing his architectural talents with him.

Kauffmann’s work, heavily influenced by the great Mies van der Rohe, introduced modernist style to this historic and biblical land. On his own, Richard Kauffmann designed many of the new farming communities in Israel, including the first moshav, Nahalal, whose design invoked rays of sunshine.

His designs touched not just Israel’s farmers, but her cityfolk, as well. Kauffmann created whole neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, and designed new Israeli cities like Afula and Herzliya. A Kauffmann-designed building also serves as home to Israel’s Prime Minister.

Although he passed away only ten years after Israel won her independence, Richard Kauffmann and his architectural eye live on in the Holy Land’s buildings.

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