Ben-Ami Shulman (1907-1986) was recognized posthumously as one of the significant architects of the 1930's Bauhaus-influenced White City of Tel Aviv, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. Shulman trained under Victor Horta at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Brussels, graduating with honors.
Eight of Shulman's buildings are documented landmarks + he is considered one of the White City architects whose "work stands out in its creative freedom + constant search for innovative design solutions." His 1937 controversial design for 3 Mapu St. was restored in 2012 by architect/ conservation specialist Naor Mimar + commemorated:
"Built as an apartment building in the International Style + incorporating innovative elements whose prevalent fundamental features are reflected in the partial semi-free ground floor, the partition of the building into secondary volumes, + the long strip of windows."
Shulman left Israel at 41 to pursue his career, travelled extensively + returned to Israel often but evidently did not promote or refer to this body of impressive work. Uzi Shulman, his architect/son vividly examines possible reasons for this in the video- SHULMAN'S TEL AVIV ARCHITECTURE.
These works can also be viewed in TEL AVIV MODERNISM + TEL AVIV 2013.
In 1947 Shulman went to the U.S to raise funds to build a school that he designed + fell in love with the country. In Israel, challenging political + economic times with little architecture underway forced many architects to emigrate. He attempted to move to L.A. but U.S. immigration quotas made this impossible so he moved his family to Montreal where he where he practiced until 1959 when he was finally able to move to L.A.
The Montreal period archive contains photographs of drawings + buildings + trade articles about projects that include apartment buildings, private homes + institutions. In 1955 a drawing of an office building attributed to him appeared in the RAIC Journal. The documentation process is currently concentrated on obtaining precise building addresses so provenances can be verified. The CCA, architecture libraries + other organizations have been consulted. Shulman archive documents can be seen at MONTREAL PERIOD.
Shulman's dream of living + working in L.A. was finally realized in 1960 at 53 when he moved there + set up an architecture practice. His collection of contemporary architecture + design books + systematic scrapbooks of international + American architecture postcards suggest that he was avidly following a wide range of contemporary architecture including L.A. residential + commercial buildings.
He found particular success working with development companies building apartment complexes in L.A. + the growing Valley that reflect a surprisingly wide stylistic range. The buildings read like a catalogue of what could be termed the L.A. vernacular architecture of his working years. These types of vernacular buildings form the patterned connective tissue- the context- of the growing city but do not point to a signature style. Unlike the legendary architects who fiercely promoted + adapted their modernism in L.A., Shulman arrived in L.A. with fine (but as yet publicly unrecognized) credentials, at a later stage in life, but enthusiastic to get involved with the flow of L.A. styles. Interestingly, it was a time when the modernist language was facing debate + "most architects were searching for a more human style that would be appreciated by the general public..." This period is detailed in L.A. VERNACULAR + the e-book SOME SHULMAN L.A. APARTMENTS.