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Renowned Architect, Moshe Safdie is born, 1938

On This Day in Jewish History: July 14, 1938



Born in Haifa, British Mandatory Palestine (now Israel), Moshe Safdie has become one of the most sought after architects of our time, creating unique and trailblazing designs. After being educated in Israel in the formative years of the state, he moved to Canada with his family as a teenager. Shortly thereafter he enrolled in the School of Architecture at McGill University in Montreal, where he graduated in 1981. Famously, Safdie is the architect behind the unique and special design that is the Children’s Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel.


After an apprenticeship with architect Louis I. Khan in Philadelphia, he returned to Montreal where he took charge of the plan for Expo ‘67, a yearlong international exhibition in Montreal. Safdie designed Habitat ‘67, which is often quoted to be what shot him into international accolade and interest. Combining the two major housing typologies, the urban garden residence and the modular high rise apartment building, he prefabricated concrete housing by creating a vision for the future of cities.


Three years later in 1970, Safdie established an office in Jerusalem, which commenced the rebuilding of the city. He was responsible for major segments of the restoration of the Old City and the reconstruction of the new center. Some of his notable pieces of work in Israel include the Yad Vashem Children’s Holocaust Memorial, the Airside Terminal at Ben Gurion International Airport as well as the Supreme Court of Israel.


A pioneer of his time, Safdie created visions that are compatible with the modern day. He believes that architects need to create more convertible spaces that can be used in both hot and cold weather as we all have a part in combating climate change by reducing our carbon footprint. His impact has been so large that his alma mater, McGill University, holds the Moshe Safdie Archive which consists of over 80,000 architectural drawings, over 100 sketchbooks and numerous other models and presentations.


He has been awarded numerous major commissions in the US, Canada, Israel and Asia and in 2015 he was the winner of the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, awarded “in recognition of a significant body of work of lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture”.

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