Israel is renowned for its ancient and rich history, but also being a modern country associated with high tech and progress, there are many newer architectural landmarks to explore. Some of the world’s top architects have left their mark on the country. Find out who, and where.
Santiago Calatrava, Bridge of Strings, Jerusalem
The Spanish architect and engineer is known for his complex sculptural forms that look as though they can actually move. Calatrava designed two magnificent bridges in Israel. The first and less famous is a small bridge in the town of Petach Tikva. The second, Cords Bridge, is one of Israel’s top architectural landmarks. Opened in 2008, the side-spar cable-stayed bridge (one of Calatrava’s main areas of expertise) accommodates one of Jerusalem’s light rail lines. Located at the entrance to the city of Jerusalem, this is a must-see for any visitor to the city.
Ron Arad, Design Museum Holon, Holon
It’s shouldn’t be a surprise to find the Israeli architect/industrial designer in this list, as he is a major advocate of Israel’s design scene. The Design Museum he designed in Holon, 10 minutes from Tel Aviv, is impressive. The building was constructed using huge pieces of Corten steel. Due to sun and rain exposure, the steel has rusted into different shades, providing a colourful yet very natural-looking exterior. The Design Museum is a must for any culture lover in Israel, having featured various exhibitions and retrospectives on figures like Studio Nendo, Issey Miyake, and even Ron Arad himself.
Daniel Libeskind, Wohl Centre Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan
Most famous for his work on the Holocaust memorial in Berlin and the World Trade Centre in Manhattan, Liebeskind is one of the most prominent architects of our time. In addition to the Wohl Centre, a convention centre at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan that has won the RIBA award for its architecture in 2006, Liebeskind has recently designed a 26-story pyramid-shaped building in the heart of Jerusalem, to be constructed by the end of 2019.
Norman Foster, The Hebrew University’s Centre for Brain Sciences, Jerusalem
Foster + Partners, led by Pritzker award winning Lord Norman Foster, are currently working on their first Israeli project, The Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences at the Hebrew University. Foster’s architecture is known for its use of unique glass facades, which are a completely different style to Jerusalem’s traditional stone architecture, and probably the reason this state-of-the-art building will be so interesting.
Preston Scott Cohen, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv
The new wing of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, opened in 2011, is standing proof of Israel’s incredible art and design scene and its dedication to innovation. Walking around the building is an experience by itself, as it was designed as a serious of axes overlapping and interfacing, mean to be a reminder of Israel’s variety of cultures. Tucked one on top of the other in surprising harmony, the museum’s interior architecture ensures natural light always enters the building, therefore providing the optimum conditions for appreciating the art collections within.
Hertzog & De Meuron, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
Another landmark set to be located in Jerusalem is the new building for the National Library of Israel. The library currently holds more than five million books, collecting treasures of Israel and of Jewish heritage. The new building, designed by Pritzker award-winning Swiss architects Hertzog & De Meuron, aspires to connect the digital age and the relevance of books, whilst preserving Jerusalem’s landscape and architectural history.
Moshe Safdie, Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem
This Israeli/American/Canadian architect has made quite a name for himself in the architectural community since the 1960s, having won multiple awards for his architectural projects and for his role as Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Harvard. Safdie is a major contributor to the architectural landscape in Israel, having designed some of Israel’s most significant cultural landmarks, including Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The architect designed a 180-meter long triangular structure that penetrates the mountain on one end and then emerges on the other – providing a sense of “light at the end of the tunnel”. The tip of the triangle is made with glass to allow natural light to enter all the way through.
Richard Meier, Meier on Rothschild, Tel Aviv
Pritzker Award winner, Richard Meier, is an American architect known for his use of geometry and white. Recently opened, Meier on Rothschild is a 27-story skyscraper designed by Meier, and the second-highest residential building in Tel Aviv. The building is located at the corner of Rothschild Boulevard and Allenby street in Tel Aviv, making it so central it’s convenient to check out. In addition, the commercial floor of the building houses the Rothchild-Allenby food market, making it all the more worthwhile place to visit.
Sanaa, Architecture Campus – Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem
Another reason to travel to Jerusalem in the next few years is the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design new Architecture Campus in Jerusalem, set to open in 2021. The sleek white-and-glass design by the ultra-modern Pritzker-winning Japanese firm Sanaa will be in the heart of Jerusalem’s old town, making it all the more special and a true landmark for any architecture and design enthusiast.
Louis Kahn, Wolfson School of Engineering, Tel Aviv University
The construction of the Faculty of Engineering at Tel Aviv University, which was designed by the renowned American architect Louis Kahn, was completed in 1980, after his death. Kahn designed a very ‘serious’ and heavy-looking building, which at first glance may seem a little threatening. However, it was deliberately designed to surround a wide courtyard, therefore making sure light is everywhere in this building.
The Cymbalista Synagogue, Tel Aviv University
Another landmark at Tel Aviv University’s main campus is Mario Botta’s Cymbalista Synagogue. The strange-looking synagogue was built in 1998 as part of a series of religious works designed by Botta. It features two rounded geometrical shapes emerging from a rectangular entrance floor, a symbol for the Jewish Chuppa. This building, much like most of Botta’s work, is made of brick, but its unique geometrical shapes create a wide, open space that allows the interior to be flooded with natural light.