Fonds 58 - Moshe Safdie

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Moshe Safdie

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Biographical history

Moshe Safdie was born in Haifa, Israel, in 1938. Educated there during the formative years of the State, he moved to Canada with his family, eventually graduating from McGill University in 1961 with a degree in architecture. After apprenticing with Louis I. Kahn in Philadelphia, he returned to Montreal, taking charge of the master plan for the 1967 World Exhibition, where he also realized an adaptation of his graduation thesis as Habitat 67, the central feature of the World’s Fair. Habitat, opening in 1967, soon became one of the lasting 20th-century icons of utopian urban living.

In 1970 Safdie established a Jerusalem branch office, commencing an intense involvement with the rebuilding of Jerusalem. He was responsible for major segments of the restoration of the Old City and the reconstruction of the new center, linking the Old and New Cities. Over the years, his involvement expanded and included the new city of Modi’in, the new Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the Rabin Memorial Center, and the National (Ben Gurion) Airport. During this period, Safdie also became involved in the developing world, working in Senegal, Iran, Singapore, and in the northern Canadian arctic.

In 1978, following teaching at Yale, McGill, and Ben Gurion Universities, Safdie relocated his residence and principal office to Boston as he became Director of the Urban Design Program and the Ian Woodner Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. In the following decade, he was responsible for the design of six of Canada’s principal public institutions including the Quebec Museum of Civilization, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Vancouver Public Library ~ all but one of the six projects having been won in international and national competitions.

In the past decade, Safdie has been awarded numerous major cultural and educational commissions throughout the United States, including several museums, such as the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, GA, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, CA, the Salt Lake City Public Library, Exploration Place in Wichita, KS, educational facilities such as Eleanor Roosevelt College at the University of California in San Diego, civic buildings such as the Springfield, MA, and Mobile, AL, Federal Courthouses, and performing arts centers such as the Kansas City, MO, Performing Arts Center. In addition to major works of urbanism, Safdie’s current work includes two airports ~ Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto (in a joint venture with Adamson Associates and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill), and the Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel.

Fourteen major complexes are currently under construction, including the Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex, the national museum of the Sikh people in the Punjab, India. The Salt Lake City Public Library and the Peabody Essex Museum recently opened to much acclaim in February and June 2003. The two most recent commissions have been the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters across from the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C.; and the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel in Jerusalem.

In addition to writing numerous articles on the theory and practice of architecture, Safdie has written several books, most notably, Beyond Habitat (1970), For Everyone a Garden (1974), Form and Purpose (1982), and Jerusalem: The Future of the Past (1989). His most recent book is The City After the Automobile (1997), detailing Mr. Safdie’s ideas about urbanism and city planning. A comprehensive monograph of his work, Moshe Safdie: Buildings and Projects, 1967-1992 was published in 1996. Safdie has received the Gold Medal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Order of Canada, and the Governor General’s Gold Medal, as well as numerous other awards and honorary degrees.

Safdie’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions such as: For Everyone a Garden (Baltimore Museum of Art, National Gallery of Canada, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1973-1974), The National Gallery of Canada (Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 1985), and Moshe Safdie, Museum Architecture 1971-1998 (Tel Aviv University Museum, 1998).

Safdie has also participated in several films, including The Sound of the Carceri, about Bach and Piranesi, with Yo-Yo Ma (directed by Francois Girard, 1997), Coldspring New Town (National Film Board of Canada, 1973), and The Innocent Door (National Film Board of Canada, 1973).

Safdie has been the recipient of numerous awards, honorary degrees, and civil honors including the Order of Canada and the Gold Medal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

Reconnu à l'échelle internationale, Moshe Safdie est né à Haifa (Israël) en 1938 et a reçu sa formation professionnelle en architecture à l'Université McGill. Il a ouvert son propre cabinet en 1964 à Montréa
l après avoir travaillé brièvement au cabinet de van Ginkel et associés à Montréal et avec Louis Khan (1901-1974) à Philadelphie. Moshe Safdie s'est acquis une réputation mondiale pour son projet Habitat réalisé dans le cadre d'Expo 67 à Montréal, projet qui conjuguait l'aspect utilitaire des blocs de béton et l'effet dramatique de la forme pyramidale. Il a poursuivi ailleurs ses expériences avec les blocs de construction préouvrés, notamment à Porto Rico, Jérusalem, New York et Singapour. Mais Safdie ne s'est pas limité à des projets résidentiels : ses réalisations les plus récentes comprennent le Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada à Ottawa (1988) et le récent pavillon Jean-Noël Desmarais du musée des BeauxArts de Montréal (1991). Safdie a publié plusieurs ouvrages sur sa théorie de l'architecture et, depuis le milieu des années 70, il enseigne dans diverses universités dont l'Université Harvard. Son cabinet est actuellement implanté à Boston (Massachusetts), Jérusalem, Toronto et Montréal. En 1990, Moshe Safdie a fait de l'Université McGill le dépositaire permanent de ses archives. Le fonds Moshe Safdie de la CAC est très actif, du nouveau matériel s'y ajoutant sans cesse. La CAC sera responsable de sa conservation lorsqu'il sera complet. Le matériel reçu jusqu'à présent, et notamment les plans d'Habitat, du Ballet Opera House de Toronto (1989) et du Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, est actuellement en cours de dépouillement.

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The archives contains at this time an estimated 20 000 plans and drawings, 600 presentation boards, 500 loose sketches, 60 sketchbooks, 600 boxes of projects and office files, 80 models, 200 computer diskettes, and a representative collection of slides, photographic prints, audio-visual material, as well as a bibliographic file of primary and secondary literature. Materials are in the process of being accessioned and described.

Le fonds contient présentement environ 20 000 plans et dessins, 600 panneaux de présentation, 500 croquis, 60 carnets de croquis, 600 boîtes de dossiers de projets et de bureau, 80 maquettes, 200 disquettes d'ordinateur, une collection de diapositives représentative de son oeuvre, des photographies, du matériel audio-visuel et des dossiers bibliographiques de sources primaires et secondaires. Le matériel est en train d'être dépouillé mais n'a pas encore été décrit.

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Moshe Safdie donated material to the CAC in 1991 and 1992.


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  • English

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In 1990, Moshe Safdie decided to make McGill University a permanent depositary of his work. Moshe Safdie's archive at the CAC is active with new material being received regularly.

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