Moshe Safdie was born in Haifa, Israel, in 1938. He later moved to Canada with his family, 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 thesis as Habitat ‘67, the central feature of the World’s Fair.
In 1970, Safdie established a Jerusalem branch offi ce, 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, and the Rabin MemorialCenter. 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 offi ce 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 Vancouver Library Square.
In the past decade, Safdie’s major cultural and educational commissions in the U.S. have included: the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters on the Mall in Washington, D.C.; the Skirball Cultural Center and Museum in Los Angeles, California; and Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas; educational facilities such as Eleanor Roosevelt College at the University of California in San Diego; civic buildings such as the Springfi eld, Massachusetts, and Mobile, Alabama, Federal Courthouses; and performing arts centers such as the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. In addition to major works of urbanism, Safdie’s work includes two airports – Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto and Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.
Recent building openings include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (2008), the Springfi eld Federal Courthouse in Springfi eld, Massachusetts (2008), and the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia (2006).
Major complexes currently under construction include the Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex, the national museum of the Sikh people in the Punjab, India; the National Campus for the Archeology of Israel in Jerusalem; the West Edge project, a mixed-use facility in Kansas City, Missouri; the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas; the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City,Missouri; and the $9 million square foot Marina Bay Sands, a mixed-use integrated resort in Singapore.
In addition to 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). The City After the Automobile (1997), details Safdie’s ideas about urbanism and city planning. A comprehensive monograph of his work,Moshe Safdie I, was published in 1996. Moshe Safdie II, a second monograph featuring work from 1996-2008, will be published in 2009. His upcoming theoretical workdiscusses the architecture of humanity in the age of mega-scale. Safdie has been featured in several
films, including Moshe Safdie, The Power of Architecture, which is a portrait film (directed by Donald Winkler, 2004), My Architect: A Son’s Journey about Nathaniel Kahn and his father Louis I. Khan (directed by Nathaniel Kahn, 2003), and The Sound of the Carceri, about Bach and Piranesi, with Yo-Yo Ma (directed by Francois Girard, 1997).
Exhibitions of his designs include For Everyone a Garden (Baltimore Museum of Art, National Gallery of Canada, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1973-1974);Moshe Safdie, Projects: 1979-1989 (Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 1989); Moshe Safdie, Museum Architecture 1971-1998 (Tel Aviv University, 1998);Building a New Museum (Peabody Essex Museum, 2003-2004); and the upcoming Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie co-sponsored by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Skirball Cultural Center (2009).
Safdie has been the recipient of numerous awards, honorary degrees, and civil honors, including the Companion Order of Canada and the Gold Medal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.