Moshe Safdie

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Moshe Safdie
Moshe Safdie.jpg
Moshe Safdie
Born (1938-07-14) July 14, 1938 (age 81)
Haifa, Israel
Nationality Israeli/Canadian/American
Occupation Architect
Awards Order of Canada
Gold Medal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
Practice Safdie Architects
Buildings Habitat 67
Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum
Asian University for Women
Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex
Marina Bay Sands
Projects Alrov Mamilla Quarter

Moshe Safdie, CC, FAIA (born July 14, 1938) is an Israeli/Canadian/American architect, urban designer, educator, theorist, and author. He is most identified with Habitat 67, which paved the way for his international career.[1]


Moshe Safdie was born in Haifa, Israel to a Syrian Jewish family. His family moved to Montreal, Canada, in 1953. In 1959, Safdie married Nina Nusynowicz. The couple had two children, a daughter and a son. His son Oren Safdie is a playwright who has written several plays about architecture including Private Jokes, Public Places.[2] His daughter Taal is an architect in San Diego, a partner of the firm Safdie Rabines Architects.[3] In 1961, Safdie graduated from McGill University with a degree in architecture. In 1981, Safdie married Michal Ronnen, a photographer, with whom he has two daughters, Carmelle and Yasmin. Carmelle Safdie is an artist, and Yasmin Safdie is a social worker. Safdie is the uncle of Dov Charney, founder and former CEO of American Apparel.

Architecture 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.[4]

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.

Architectural style

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 is a self-described modernist.

Awards and recognition

  • 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
  • Mt. Scopus Award for Humanitarianism, Jerusalem

In November 2011, Punjab Chief Minister honoured Safdie at the inauguration ceremony of the Khalsa Heritage Museum. He said Safdie had studied Sikh religion for two years before designing the heritage museum. Safdie said he wanted the museum to look 300 years old and he thought he had succeeded in this objective.

Selected projects

Habitat 67, Montreal, 1967
Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum, Jerusalem, 2005
Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex, Anandpur Sahib, India, 2011

Published works

  • Beyond Habitat (1970)
  • For Everyone A Garden (1974)
  • Form & Purpose (1982)
  • Beyond Habitat by 20 Years (1987)
  • Jerusalem: The Future of the Past (1989)
  • The City After the Automobile: An Architect's Vision (1998)[9]
  • Yad Vashem - The Architecture of Memory (2006)[10]

See also

Further reading

  • Moshe Safdie Volume I (1st edition 1996/2nd edition 2009)[11]
  • Moshe Safdie Volume II (2009)[12]
  • Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie (2010)
  • Peace Building: The Mission, Work, and Architecture of the United States Institute of Peace (2011) [13]
  • Reaching for the Sky: The Marina Bay Sands Singapore (2013)[14]
  • Safdie (2014)[15]


  1. Israeli architecture with eastern promise
  3. Safdie Rabines Architects
  4. Pound, Richard W. (2005). 'Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates'. Fitzhenry and Whiteside.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Peabody Essex Museum
  9. [1]
  10. [2]
  11. [3]
  12. [4]

External links