G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress
Vox Tablet

Builders of a New Jerusalem

In a new book, Adina Hoffman brings to life three architects who transformed the city in the days of the British Mandate

March 18, 2016
G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress

In much of Jerusalem these days you’ll find a busy, modern city. There’s a relatively new light rail system, sprawling shopping malls, and huge, new apartment buildings. But there are also iconic edifices and homes that went up nearly 100 years ago—when Jerusalem first started to grow beyond the walls of the historic old city. Who were the people—the architects—who put their stamp on this new Jerusalem decades ago?

Writer Adina Hoffman, who has lived in Jerusalem for some twenty-five years, wanted to find out. In Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New City, she examines the lives of three of them—Erich Mendelsohn, Austen St. Barbe Harrison, and Spyro Houris, all of whom were born elsewhere. Hoffman was on Vox Tablet five years ago to discuss Sacred Trash, a book about the Cairo Geniza which she co-wrote with Peter Cole, her husband.

She joins podcast host Sara Ivry again—this time to talk about the multiple identities these three architects possessed; what kind of aesthetic influences they brought with them to Palestine and what kind of aesthetic choices they made in their work there; and why, in at least one case, it was so hard to track down much biographical information.

Vox Tablet is Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast, hosted by Sara Ivry and produced by Julie Subrin. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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