The Scoop: Moshe Safdie Inspires A Young Architect


Beginning on March 16th and running through March 22nd the Boston Society of Architecture (BSA) will be hosting an exhibit entitled Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie. This major retrospective explores the work of international architect and 2015 AIA Gold Medal–winner, Safdie FAIA, tracing the trajectory of Safdie’s more than 50-year career. For more information, follow this link to their page.
Habitat 67 completed
Reflecting on Safdie’s work and its impact on architects around the world, Tocci’s Design Manager, Mark Herstein provided his thoughts and impressions of Safdie’s work:

Moshe Safdie was inspirational to me as an architectural student. Specifically, the Habitat 67 project with pre-fabricate components was revolutionary for me. After all, who didn’t have an Erector Set, Girder + Panel or Lincoln Logs to play with growing up? I did! I used to spend hours building high-rise structures with my childhood building toys.
Erector Set
Lincoln Logs Girder & Panel

In the late 60’s and early 70’s pre-fabricated components for housing began to hit the mainstream of the industry. Safdie’s work was fascinating–affordable housing on a grand scale. Concepts put forward in his work, most notably Habitat 67, stirred my imagination–from hanging gardens to constructing buildings on an accelerated scale. At this point in my career interestingly enough, I’m with a builder that not only professes but also successfully incorporates several of Safdie’s precepts in our everyday work. Innovation. Lean. Sustainability. Sociology.

In the Wikipedia excerpt below – you can read that despite the innovation and reduced labor – the technology of the time did not allow the units to be built as economically as conceived.

Safdie’s design for Habitat 67 began as a thesis project for his architecture program at McGill University. Safdie was approached by his former thesis advisor to develop the master plan for Expo 67, the world’s fair that was set to take place in Montreal during 1967. Safdie decided to propose his thesis as one of the pavilions and began developing his plan. After the federal cabinet minister responsible for the exhibition approved the plans, Safdie was awarded the project in spite of his relative youth and inexperience. This was an opportunity he later described as “a fairy tale, an amazing fairy tale”.

Moshe Safdie model of Habitat 67
Habitat 67 in construction
Habitat 67 completed
Habitat 67 comprises 354 identical, prefabricated concrete forms arranged in various combinations, reaching up to 12 stories in height. Together these units create 146 residences of varying sizes and configurations, each formed from one to eight linked concrete units. The complex originally contained 158 apartments, but several apartments have since been joined to create larger units, reducing the total number. Each unit is connected to at least one private terrace, which can range from approximately 225 to 1,000 square feet (20 to 90 m2) in size.

Additional notable Safdie projects include the following:

Kauffman Center

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is a performing arts center in downtown Kansas City, Missouri that opened in 2011.

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Moshe Safdie says card decks initially inspired the design of the building.

National Gallery of Canada

National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario that opened in 1988.

Peabody Essex Museum

Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Considered one of the oldest continuously operating museums in the United States.

Safdie Architects Habitat of the Future Rendering

Safdie Architects “Habitat of the Future” Rendering

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