RARELY can one offer one’s best wishes to a colleague so heartily and so wholeheartedly as to Richard Kauffmann on his 70th birthday today.
It is a long time since we first met, when Richard Kauffmann built those fine houses on the shore of the Dead Sea that were so completely adapted to the difficult climate down there and breathed so well, in their ascetic modernity, the atmosphere of that lonely and majestic depression. Never again, despite all endeavours, was the quality of this achievement equalled in our country.
Building those houses was really not much more for Richard Kauffmann than a diversion from his real work of planning in a wider field; yet they have remained for me the best example of his true approach to planning, the only possible approach to planning that is really his, honesty.
The same holds true of his first regional plan for the development of Haifa Bay. What was built may have looked more “brilliant” or “realistic,” but his plan breathed broadmindedness and an honesty of approach that could have made free and open development possible.
Thus did Richard Kauffmann lay the foundations on which all later settlements in this country were reared. Those were the days of men whose ideas of settling the country economically, of developing it constructively and broad-mindedly gave the architect his due. It was understood then as a matter of course that the common interest could best be served by sound settlements, well-run industries, broadly conceived towns. It did not matter much who worked on one’s own and who was more cooperatively minded, for all strove honestly for quality. That was the way Richard Kauffmann built.
Conditions are different today, and one can understand why a man whose best basic work was turned out then should not feel too well in the surroundings which he tried in vain to influence. But at the same time, those who strive to achieve these ideals to this day in the architectural profession, fighting for the respect which is its due and at the same time for honesty within their own ranks, are badly in need of support.
The position of anyone who remains outside the struggle is therefore as regrettable as it is enviable. He should fight not with words, spoken or written, but with deeds — planning and building, just as he did in those bygone days. The profession’s best wishes to the man who has done so much for it include a hope that this 70th birthday may prove a turning point in this respect.