Moshe Safdie

Moshe Safdie (b 1938) grew up in Israel, moved to Canada with his family at 15, studied architecture at the McGill University and later opened an office in Montreal. Safdie attracted early acclaim as the designer of Montreal's revolutionary ‘Habitat’ for Expo 67, a housing system based on prefabricated modules stacked around prefabricated or site-built utility cores. The firm provides a full range of urban planning and architectural services, as well as interior design. Currently, the firm is engaged in activities ranging from the design of public institutions–including museums, performing arts centres, libraries and university campuses–to the design of airports, housing, mixed-use complexes and new communities.

His Inspirations:
Finally, we believe that people have always derived the greatest pleasure from architecture by recognising the way in which real materials come together to create a building. One can comprehend how the skeleton, flesh and skin hold together in the colonnade surrounding a temple or in flying buttresses that brace a cathedral’s roof and walls; in the structural lattice of woodwork in a Tudor country house, or in the wood beams and joists of a room. We believe that the qualities of rich and textured detail, which we associate with architecture of the past, can develop today from careful, innovative and expressive methods of construction.

The greatest ornament in architecture depends upon an appreciation of its making. We strive to create buildings that are unified and authentic expressions of their technology, construction materials, setting and purpose.

His Philosophy:
He believes a successful building must embody a sense of its purpose, place and tectonics. First and foremost, a work of architecture must give expression to the life for which it is intended, not only must it fully and competently satisfy the requirements of the program, but also its form should resonate with the diverse spaces and activities it contains. He also conceives architecture as a natural extension of its surroundings—urban or rural, northern or southern, ancient or entirely new—and recognise its responsibility to contribute richly to its setting and enduringly to its community. To achieve a successful fit between a building’s purpose and its design requires that the architect and the client together engage in a process of exploring the values and choices that will evolve into the final form of the building. Through dialogue, he draws out these subtleties and address the complex issues of a building’s character, image and symbolism. Always balancing his broad spectrum of experience with his commitment to develop vital forms, he seeks a close connection and reciprocity between a building and its setting and an architectural language infused with the essence of the cultural context. Contemporary architecture often lacks the qualities of ritual and ceremony that have historically been fundamental to civic, cultural and religious life. A central goal of their work is to create unique spaces and forms that introduce a sense of ceremony appropriate to each particular project.

Quotes to remember:
“This is the contradictory desire in our utopia. We want to live in a small community with which we can identify and yet we want all the facilities of the city of millions of people. We want to have very intense urban experiences and yet we want the open space right next to us.”

“He who seeks truth, shall find beauty. He who seeks beauty, shall find vanity. He who seeks order, shall find gratification. He who seeks gratification, shall find disappointment. He who considers himself a servant of his fellow beings, shall find joy of self expression. He who seeks self expression, shall fall to the pit of arrogance. Arrogance is incompatible with nature. Through nature, the nature of the universe and the nature of man, we shall seek truth. If we seek truth we shall find beauty.”

His Projects:

Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex, Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, India
Habitat at Expo 67 World's Fair, Montreal, Quebec
Skirball Cultural Centre, Los Angeles, California
Telfair Museum of Art, Jepson Centre for the Arts, Savannah, Georgia
The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
City plan for the city of Modi'in, Israel
Former Ottawa City Hall, Ottawa, Ontario
Several major buildings, including the new central museum, opened 2005, at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel
Hebrew Union College, first phase and Merkaz Shimshon expansion, Jerusalem, Israel
Mamilla Centre and David's Village, Jerusalem, Israel
Vancouver Library Square, Vancouver, British Columbia
The Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts, Vancouver, British Columbia
Main Branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
Airside building of Terminal 3, Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore's first integrated resort and casino
Kauffman Centre for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri
West Edge, Kansas City, Missouri
Terminal 1, Toronto Pearson International Airport, with Skidmore Owings Merrill
The Class of 1959 Chapel, Harvard Business School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
The Grave of Yitzhak and Leah Rabin
The campus of Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts
The Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The 2003, $190+ million redesign of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts [1]
Eleanor Roosevelt College campus, UC San Diego
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (scheduled to open in 2010)
United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. (under construction for completion in 2010)
The Exploration Place Science Museum in Wichita, Kansas
Coldspring New Town, Baltimore, Maryland