Shlomo Aronson Architects
Founded by the late landscape architect Shlomo Aronson more than 50 years ago, the office is today headed by landscape architect Barbara Aronson and architect Ittai Aronson who continue to expand the professional legacy of a practice which creates responsible designs of all types and scales at all stages of planning. Barbara grew up in Munich, Germany, and she received her professional training at the FH Weihenstephan and at the Harvard GSD. She permanently joined the practice in 1994 and has added since then to the multi-cultural and inclusive approach to the practice’s work: looking towards the uniqueness of Israel’s historical, cultural, and natural surroundings to provide inspiration, while continually evolving to integrate new understandings. Over the course of time, the practice developed a reputation for creating projects with a unique local sense of place across the country.
The office continues this tradition, perpetually testing past experiences and its distinctive design language against new professional insights and knowledge. Ecological, cultural and social responsiveness has been at the heart of the practice from the beginning.
Our very broad lateral and integrative approach to designing sustainable interventions in the environment, from large engineering to infrastructure projects, archaeological and regional parks, neighborhoods and public buildings, afforestation projects, promenades and urban plazas, and strategic and statutory plans, has gained our practice local and international recognition.
As we look forward, we are taking advantage of our accumulated knowledge to approach the extremely varied projects we are asked to design and to reach our goal of creating site-specific, resilient, and lasting projects.
Barbara met Shlomo Aronson in 1984 as part of her internship in his office. It started a life-long relationship which first began with him being her professional mentor, and later expanded into Shlomo becoming her father-in-law and she joining as a partner in the practice. Shlomo’s incredible professional knowledge and talent combined with his exceptional personal generosity remains one of the most formative influences on her life.
Barbara said: There are so many fantastic historic and contemporary gardens that I have studied and visited over time. Yet most influential on my decision to become a landscape architect were the many visits to the Botanical Garden of Munich as a child. The trees, rhododendrons and cacti, the greenhouses and the overall design of the grounds remain in my memory to this day, and started my interest in plants, gardens and the landscape at large.
The Sherover Promenade overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem, parts of western Jerusalem and a great sweep of the Judean Desert. Its 1,350-meter-long walk is used by both Jews and Arabs as well as tourists and pilgrims to Jerusalem. Its quiet gardens, planted with agricultural species such as wheat and olives, and its many viewing pergolas, create an atmosphere of peace and beauty in which to enjoy this unique and world-famous site. The garden contrasts sharply with the desert which begins immediately at its feet, and provides an elegant transition from the city to the classic views of Jerusalem.
The park in Herzliya is a work in progress with only a third of the entire park developed: the Master Plan envisions the protection and further enhancement of the existing water systems, while providing new recreational facilities for the inhabitants of Herzliya and the region. It is being implemented and adjusted in a dynamic process of public participation and education, on-site research about the site’s unique natural processes and assets, and an on-going understanding on our part of what the expectations and needs in a modern urban park are. The park is located on an historical flood plain with large seasonal winter ponds. The existing matrix of the drainage and flooding systems, combined with the idea of using the imagery of a tree with extending branches as the organizational structure, determined the formal language for the park: the general layout and the design of its built elements interprets this basic idea of ‘natural flow’. The first stage included re-habilitated drainage channels, a lake, and an amphitheater, a feature playground area and a coffee shop/public facilities building. Separate path systems for runners and cyclists weave through the park and connect to the existing surroundings. The following stages were designed around the unique winter ponds with their rich wildlife of migrating birds, including viewing decks and bird watching shelters while continuing the basic structure of pedestrian, bicycle and running paths, as well as play areas.
Jerusalem Botanical Garden
The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens occupy a long, narrow 22-hectare valley between the campus of the Hebrew University and the Israel Museum in the heart of modern Jerusalem. The site’s proximity to these important institutions has the potential to draw many visitors and tourists, making the gardens an integral part of the city’s fabric. However, the site presented basic technical problems: Dense construction along the narrow valley’s edges and a highway dividing the site posed distractions from the garden-like quality the city desired. In addition, the soil was poor in most parts of the garden.
To overcome these problems, the design converts the valley from a vast open expanse with grand views to a series of more intimate “rooms” defined by reshaping the surface of the valley. Some 140,000 cubic meters of earth were brought in to re-sculpture the site to create discrete orientations and environments. The new topography resulted in varying exposures which form distinct microclimates for diverse ecologies and habitats. Each plant community is presented in a physical setting reminiscent of its natural habitat, incorporating materials and methods of construction appropriate to its origin. Pergolas, bridges and terrace-walls in each regional group recall traditional styles from that specific part world. The Botanical Gardens include a conservatory and a small lake with an adjoining restaurant and visitors center. It is open to the public and is a focus for botanical research for the local scientific community.