Moshe Safdie: Israeli roots
Moshe Safdie achieved worldwide fame when his sensational Habitat pavilion was the showcase of Expo 67. The visionary architect went on to design some of the country's best-known buildings, including the National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver's Library Square and the massive rebuild of Toronto's Pearson Airport. Millions of Canadians experience the power of his architecture daily. CBC looks at Safdie's career.
• Safdie excelled academically, winning a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation scholarship that allowed him to tour North America and examine housing and architecture in the summer of 1959.
• On that trip Safdie visited the suburbs and downtowns of many cities at the height of the suburban explosion. He identified what he calls "the paradox of contemporary urbanism: the dream of a home and garden that are distant from the ills of the city alongside a desire for the vitality of downtown."
• What he saw inspired him to design a building type that would bring the advantages of suburban living to a high-density urban setting.
• After the trip, Safdie abandoned his earlier plan to design the Israeli Knesset (parliament) for his thesis and began to focus on urban housing.
• He constructed models out of Lego blocks, which eventually led to his thesis design project, "A Three-Dimensional Modular Building System," and accompanying report, "A Case for City Living: An Investigation into the Urban Dwelling for Families."
• In 1961 Safdie got his first job with Sandy and Blanche Van Ginkel of Van Ginkel & Associates in Montreal.
• The following year he went to Philadelphia to apprentice under Louis I. Kahn, whose work is said to infuse the International style of architecture with a "poetry of light." Safdie described Kahn as "the only architect on the planet I wanted to work for at that moment."
• During his second year with Kahn, Safdie was approached by Sandy Van Ginkel who had recently been made the deputy responsible for physical planning for the upcoming World's Fair in Montreal.
• Safdie accepted Van Ginkel's invitation to work with Expo 67 and moved back to Montreal to begin work on Habitat.
• He opened his own office in Montreal in 1964.
• As a child, Safdie kept bees and spent a great deal of time studying their social and architectural habits. This, and the hillside architecture of Haifa strongly influenced Safdie's approach to architecture.
• View the entire clip to learn more about Safdie's beliefs, values and roots.
• Safdie married his first wife, Nina Nusynowicz, in 1959. They had a daughter, Taal, in 1961 and a son, Oren, in 1965. They later divorced and Safdie remarried in 1981 to Michal Ronnen with whom he has two daughters, Carmelle and Yasmin.
Broadcast Date: March 16, 1971
Guest(s): Moshe Safdie
Host: Ken Cavanagh
Last updated: January 22, 2014
Page consulted on March 6, 2014
All Clips from this Topic
Moshe Safdie's undergraduate thesis receives worldwide attention as ce...
Safdie talks extensively about the concept and the building process.
Moshe Safdie describes how his upbringing influenced his ideas and his...
Safdie describes the impact his homeland has had on his architecture.
Moshe Safdie joins a group discussion looking back at Expo 67.
Safdie must consider politics, passions and the weight of history when...
Photographer Yousuf Karsh gives a tour of Moshe Safdie's new National ...
Vicki Gabereau talks to Moshe Safdie about his life, his work and the ...
Safdie speaks about his philosophies of architecture.
Moshe Safdie returns to Montreal and shows he's willing to put his cli...
As with many Safdie projects, the new Vancouver library is a little un...
Architecture critic Adele Freedman and architectural historian Andrew ...
Thirty years after Habitat, Safdie proposes another radical solution t...
McGill University's Canadian Architectural Centre launches Safdie webs...
A play written by Moshe Safdie's son takes a humorous and critical loo...
Hundreds of volunteers put Toronto's new airport terminal to the test.
Moshe Safdie achieved worldwide fame when his sensational Habitat pavi...