CONTRADICTORY DESIRE IN OUR UTOPIA
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.
WORLD’S LEADING ADVOCATE FOR INCLUSIVE SPACES
Architect, Urban Designer, & Urban Theorist
Moshe Safdie was born in Haifa, Israel to a Syrian Jewish family. His family moved to Montreal, Canada, in 1953. In 1961, Safdie graduated from McGill University with a degree in architecture. He is most identified with Habitat 67, which paved the way for his international career. After apprenticing with Louis Kahn in Philadelphia, Safdie returned to Montreal to oversee the master plan for Expo 67. In 1964, he established his own firm to undertake Habitat 67, an adaptation of his McGill thesis. Habitat 67, which pioneered the design and implementation of three-dimensional, prefabricated units for living, was a central feature of Expo 67 and an important development in architectural history. He was awarded the 1967 Construction Man of the Year Award from the Engineering News Record and the Massey Medal for Architecture in Canada for Habitat 67. In 1970, Safdie opened a branch office in Jerusalem. Among the projects he has designed in Jerusalem are Yad Vashem and the Alrov Mamilla Quarter, which includes the Mamilla Mall, David’s Village luxury condominiums, and the 5-star Mamilla Hotel. In 1978, after teaching at McGill, Ben Gurion, and Yale universities, Safdie moved his main office to Boston and became director of the Urban Design Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, until 1984. From 1984 to 1989, he was the Ian Woodner Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Harvard.
Since the early 1990s, Safdie, a citizen of Canada, Israel, and the United States, has focused on his architectural practice, Safdie Architects, which is based in Somerville, MA, and has branches in Toronto, Jerusalem, and Singapore. Safdie has designed six of Canada’s principal public institutions–including the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and Vancouver Library Square–as well as many other notable projects around the world, including the Salt Lake City Main Public Library; the Khalsa Heritage Centre in Punjab, India; the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort in Singapore; the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters in Washington, DC; the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Moshe Safdie’s works are known for their dramatic curves, arrays of geometric patterns, use of windows, and key placement of open and green spaces. His writings and designs stress the need to create meaningful, vital, and inclusive spaces that enhance community, with special attention to the essence of a particular locale, geography, and culture. He received the Gold Medal (American Institute of Architects), Companion of the Order of Canada, Gold Medal (Royal Architectural Institute of Canada), Richard Neutra Award for Professional Excellence, and Mt. Scopus Award for Humanitarianism (Jerusalem).