Moshe Safdie ( he|משה ספדיה; born July 14, 1938) is an architect, urban planner, educator, theorist, and author. Over a 50-year career, Safdie has explored the essential principles of socially responsible design through a comprehensive and humane design philosophy. Safdie's multiculturalism, commitment to geographic, social and cultural elements that define a place, and constant search for typological and technological innovation, make him an important architectural figure of the second half of the twentieth and early twenty-first century. Coiner of "For Everyone a Garden,", Safdie's completed projects include cultural, educational, and civic institutions; neighborhoods and public parks; housing; mixed-use urban centers; airports; and master plans for existing communities and entirely new cities. Safdie's projects can be found in North and South America, the Middle East and throughout Asia. He is most identified with designing Marina Bay Sands and Jewel Changi Airport, as well as his debut project, Habitat 67, originally conceived as his master's thesis at McGill University, which paved the way for his international career. Safdie's thought leadership and exemplary projects have been identified in and inspiration for generations of architects and architecture.

Early life and education

A citizen of Israel, Canada and the United States, Moshe Safdie was born in Haifa in 1938 to a Sephardic Jewish family of Syrian and Lebanese descent. He was nine years old, living in Haifa, when, on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. Safdie attended the Reali High School. He spent his summers in a Kibbutz, working the countryside. He tended goats and kept bees. In 1953, the Israeli government restricted imports in response to an economic and currency crisis, severely impacting Safdie's father's textile business. Consequently, at age 15, Safdie and his family relocated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Safdie completed pre-university training at Westmount High School. In September 1955 he registered in McGill University Faculty of Engineering's six-year architecture degree program. In his fifth year, Safdie was named University Scholar. The following summer, he was awarded the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Scholarship and traveled across North America to observe housing developments in major cities. In his final year, Safdie developed his thesis titled "A Case for City Living" and described as "A Three-Dimensional Modular Building System". He received his degree in 1961. Two years later, at twenty-three years old - while apprenticing with Louis Kahn - Safdie's thesis advisor, Sandy van Ginkel, invited him to submit his project for the World Exposition of 1967.


Encompassing more than seventy-five completed buildings, communities, and master plans on three continents and an even greater number of projects and competition entries, Safdie's career has evolved in a series of distinct phases. In 1964, Safdie established his own firm in Montreal to undertake work on Habitat 67, an adaptation of his thesis at McGill University. Habitat 67 was a central feature of Expo 67; it pioneered the design and implementation of three-dimensional, prefabricated units for living. Habitat 67 was created as a vital neighborhood with open spaces, garden terraces and many other amenities typically reserved for the single-family home, adapted to high-density urban environments – an important development in architectural history. This seminal project launched the first phase of Safdie's work: A new kind of urbanism. The second phase of Safdie’s career coincided with the establishment of a branch office. In 1970, Safdie opened a Jerusalem office. Safdie's work during this period combined his interests in social activism and advanced technologies with profound respect for historic and regional context. He worked on the restoration of the Old City and the construction of Mamilla Center, linking Old and New Cities. Other significant works in Israel include New City of Modi’in, Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum, Yitzhak Rabin Center for Israel Studies, Ben Gurion International Airport, National Campus for the Archeology of Israel, multiple projects for Hebrew Union College, and others. During this period, Safdie also worked with leaders in Senegal and Iran. Commissions for significant buildings across North America marked Safdie's next phase in his career. Safdie's ongoing interest in geometry as a generator of architectural shape took new direction, alongside a focus on sensual and symbolic architectural experience and a resolve for understanding clients’ aspiration. His cultural projects encapsulated powerful expressions of civic and national identities. Safdie is responsible for the National Gallery of Canada, the Quebec Museum of Civilization, and the Vancouver Library Square. Other notable cultural works include: The Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex, the national museum of the Sikh people in the Punjab, India; the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters on the Mall 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. Safdie's twenty-first century projects – another milestone in his career – are characterized by greater geographic range, including the world's most dynamic emerging markets, and for being realized in shorter time spans at larger scales. These landmark developments include: Marina Bay Sands, a mixed-use integrated resort with Singapore's iconic Skypark; Jewel Changi Airport, a new community-centric airport typology combining marketplace and garden; and Raffles City Chongqing, a mixed-use development featuring over one million square meters of housing, office, retail, transportation, and hotel programs. Creator of the world's longest ‘Horizontal Skyscraper,’ Safdie and team are revolutionizing urban development and high-rise building typology with skybridges and multi-level connectivity. Presently, Safdie and his team are committed to solving contemporary building challenges within workplace, healthcare, and research centers, in imaginative and unexpected ways.


Moshe Safdie is the Founding Principal and Lead Designer at Safdie Architects, founded in 1964 to realize Habitat 67. Safdie Architects is a research-oriented architecture and urban design studio active in a wide variety of project types, scales, and sectors. Safdie Architects’ global projects are led from its headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, with satellite offices in Jerusalem, Toronto, Shanghai, and Singapore. Projects are designed, managed, and executed by a global team of less than 100. The practice is organized as a partnership and operates in the model of an intimate design studio environment. The firm's partners – many of whom joined Safdie after graduation – have been working together for decades. Within his office, Safdie formed a research program to pursue advanced investigation of design topics. The practice-oriented fellowship explores speculative ideas outside normal business practice constraints. Fellows work independently with Safdie and firm principals to formulate specific proposals and research plans. The salaried position is located in-residence, with full access to project teams and outside consultants. Past fellowships include Habitat of the Future, Mobility on Demand, and Tall Buildings in the City.


In 1978, after teaching at McGill, Ben Gurion, and Yale universities, Safdie was appointed Director of the Urban Design Program at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design (GSD) and moved to Boston, Massachusetts. He served as Director until 1984. From 1984 to 1989, he was the Ian Woodner Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Harvard. Safdie continues to work closely with the GSD, frequently teaching design studio; Notably, Rethinking the Humanist High-Rise (2019) and Rethinking Hudson Yards (2017). Safdie regularly travels to, speaks at, and/or Chairs conferences engaged in industry-defining discussions on architecture and beyond.

Personal life

In 1959, Safdie married Nina Nusynowicz, a Polish-Israeli Holocaust survivor. Safdie and Nusynowicz have two children, a daughter and son, born during the inception and erection of Habitat 67. Just before the opening, Safdie and his young family moved into the development. His daughter Taal is an architect in San Diego, a partner of the firm Safdie Rabines Architects; His son Oren is a playwright who has written several plays about architecture. Safdie's great-nephews, Josh and Benny, are independent filmmakers. In 1981, Safdie married Michal Ronnen, a Jerusalem-born photographer and daughter of artist Vera Ronnen. Safdie and Ronnen have two daughters, Carmelle and Yasmin. Carmelle is an artist, and Yasmin is a social worker.

Individual honors

Safdie is the recipient of architectural, academic and civic honors – including several honourary doctorates. He was awarded the Companion of the Order of Canada, the Gold Medal from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the American Institute of Architects, the National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian, and the Wolf Prize in Architecture. * 2020: Genius Award, Liberty Science Center * 2020: Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) * 2019: Honorary Doctorate, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology * 2019: Wolf Prize in Architecture, International Wolf Foundation * 2018: Lifetime Achievement Award, Design Futures Council * 2015: Gold Medal, American Institute of Architects * 2012: Medaille du Merite, Ordre des architectes du Québec * 2005: Companion Order of Canada, Governor General-in-Council of Canada * 2003: Lifetime Achievement Award, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research * 2002: Honorary Fellow, Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland * 2001: Honorary Doctorate, Hebrew College * 1997: Jewish Cultural Achievement Award in the Visual Arts, National Foundation for Jewish Culture * 1996: Honorary Doctorate in Engineering, Technical University of Nova Scotia * 1996: Academy Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences * 1995: Gold Medal, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada * 1995: College of Fellows, American Institute of Architects * 1993: Richard Neutra Award for Professional Excellence, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona * 1989: Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts, University of Victoria * 1988: Honorary Doctorate in Sciences, Laval University * 1987: Mt. Scopus Award for Humanitarianism, Hebrew University of Jerusalem * 1986: The Order of Canada, Governor General-in-Council of Canada * 1982: Honorary Doctor of Law, McGill University * 1982: Tau Sigma Delta Gold Medal for Distinction in Design, Tau Sigma Delta Grand Chapter * 1961: Lieutenant Governor's Gold Medal for Exceptional Merit, Lieutenant Governor of Québec

Published works


With Intention to Build: The Unrealized Concepts, Ideas, and Dreams of Moshe Safdie
Ed. Michael Crosbie. Melbourne, Victoria: Images Publishing Group, 2020. * Megascale, Order & Complexity. Ed. Michael Jemtrud. Montreal: McGill University School of Architecture, 2009.
The City After the Automobile: An Architect's Vision
With Wendy Kohn. New York: Basic Books; Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Co., 1997. * The Language and Medium of Architecture (lecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design delivered November 15, 1989)
Jerusalem: The Future of the Past
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
Beyond Habitat by 20 Years
Ed. John Kettle. Montreal and Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra Books, 1987.
The Harvard Jerusalem Studio: Urban Designs for the Holy City
Asst. eds. Rudy Barton and Uri Shetrit. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1985.
Form & Purpose
Ed. John Kettle. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982. * Habitat Bill of Rights With Nader Ardalan, George Candilis, Balkrishna V. Doshi, and Josep Lluís Sert. Imperial Government of Iran Ministry of Housing, 1976.
For Everyone A Garden
Ed. Judith Wolin. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1974.
Beyond Habitat
Ed. John Kettle. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1970. * Habitat. Montreal: Tundra Books, 1967.

Principal publications on Moshe Safdie

Jewel Changi Airport
Melbourne, Victoria: Images Publishing Group, 2020.
Mulgrave, Victoria: Images Publishing Group, 2014.
Reaching for the Sky: The Marina Bay Sands Singapore
Singapore: ORO Editions, 2013. * Peace Building: The Mission, Work, and Architecture of the United States Institute of Peace. Dalton, MA: The Studley Press, 2011. * Valentin, Nilda, ed. Moshe Safdie. Rome: Edizione Kappa, 2010.
Moshe Safdie I
Mulgrave, Victoria: Images Publishing Group, 2009.
Moshe Safdie II
Mulgrave, Victoria: Images Publishing Group, 2009.
Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie
New York:Scala Publishers, Ltd., 2007.
Yad Vashem: Moshe Safdie – The Architecture of Memory
Baden, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers, 2006. * Moshe Safdie, Museum Architecture 1971–1988. Tel Aviv: Genia Schreiber University Art Gallery, Tel Aviv University, 1998. * Kohn, Wendy, ed. Moshe Safdie. London: Academy Editions, 1996. * Moshe Safdie: Buildings and Projects, 1967–1992. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1996. * Rybczynski, Witold. A Place for Art: The Architecture of the National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1993. * Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion. Montreal: Montreal Museum of Arts, 1991.


* 2017: ''Habitat 67 vers l’avenir: The Shape of Things to Come'', Université du Québec à Montréal * 2010–2014: ''Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie'', National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada / Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, California / Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, USA * 2012–2013: ''Moshe Safdie: The Path to Crystal Bridges'', Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, USA * 2004: ''An Architect's Vision: Moshe Safdie’s Jepson Center for the Arts'', Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia, USA * 2003–2004: ''Building a New Museum'', Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, USA * 1998: ''Moshe Safdie, Museum Architecture 1971–1998'', Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel * 1989: ''Moshe Safdie, Projects: 1979–1989'', Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA * 1985: ''The National Gallery of Canada'', Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA / National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada * 1982: ''Context'', Traveling exhibit sponsored by New York Institute for the Humanities * 1973–1974: ''For Everyone A Garden'', Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland, USA / National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada / San Francisco MoMA, San Francisco, California, USA


* 2020: "Moshe Safdie: Another Dimension of Architecture," ''I-Talk Productions'' * 2018: "Time Space Existence," ''Plane-Site'' * 2004: "Moshe Safdie: The Power of Architecture," ''Dir. Donald Winkler'' * 2003: "My Architect: A Son’s Journey," ''Dir. Nathaniel Kahn'' * 1997: "The Sound of the Carceri with Yo-Yo Ma," ''Dir. Francois Girard'' * 1973: "The Innocent Door" / "Coldspring New Town," ''National Film Board of Canada''


The Moshe Safdie Archive, donated to McGill University by the architect in 1990, is one of the most extensive individual collections of architectural documentation in Canada. Comprised of material from 235 projects, the Moshe Safdie Archive records the progression of Safdie's career from his first unpublished university papers to Safdie Architects' current projects. The collection includes over 140,000 drawings, over 200 architectural models, extensive project files, audio visual and digital material, as well as over 100,000 project photos and travel slides, 215 personal sketchbooks, and 2,250 large sketches. Administered by the McGill University Library, a list of physical holdings are available to researchers.

Select projects

* 1967: Habitat 67 at Expo 67 World's Fair, Montreal, Quebec, Canada * 1987: Musée de la Civilisation, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada * 1988: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada * 1989: New City of Modi'in, Israel * 1989: Esplanade Condominiums, Cambridge, Massachusetts, US * 1991: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Quebec, Canada * 1992: The Class of 1959 Chapel, Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts, US * 1994: Ottawa City Hall, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada * 1994: Rosovsky Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, US * 1995: Yad Vashem Children's and Deportees Memorials, Jerusalem * 1995: Vancouver Library Square, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada * 1998: David Citadel Hotel and David's Village, Jerusalem * 1998: Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem * 1999: Yitzhak Rabin Center for Israel Studies and Rabin Tomb, Tel Aviv, Israel * 2000: Exploration Place Science Museum, Wichita, Kansas, US * 2003: Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, US2* 2003: Salt Lake City Public Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, US * 2003: Cairnhill Road Condominiums, Singapore * 2003: Eleanor Roosevelt College, University of California, San Diego, California, US * 2004: Airside Building of Terminal 3, Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel * 2005: Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum, Jerusalem * 2006: Jepson Center for the Arts at Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia, US * 2007: Terminal 1, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Toronto, Ontario, Canada * 2008: United States Federal Courthouse, District of Massachusetts, Springfield, Massachusetts, US * 2008: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Headquarters, Washington, D.C., US * 2009: Mamilla Center, Jerusalem * 2009: Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem * 2010: Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, Singapore * 2010: ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore * 2011: United States Institute of Peace Headquarters, Washington, D.C., US * 2011: Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri, US * 2011: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, US * 2011: Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex (Virasat-e-Khalsa), Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, India * 2013: Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, California * 2012: Sky Habitat, Singapore * 2017: Eling Residences, Chongqing, China * 2017: Habitat Qinhuangdao, Qinhuangdao, China * 2019: National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, Jerusalem * 2019: Monde Residential Development, Toronto, Ontario, Canada * 2019: Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore * 2020: Raffles City Chongqing, Chongqing, China * 2021: Serena del Mar, Cartagena, Colombia * 2021: Altair_(building), Colombo, Sri Lanka


File:Kauffman Center for Performing Arts 2.jpg|Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri File:1959chapelexterior.JPG|The Class of 1959 Chapel, Boston, Massachusetts File:Peabody Essex Museum.JPG|Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts File:Rabin Center TA 09.JPG|Yitzhak Rabin Center, Tel Aviv File:Musee de la Civilisation.JPG|Musée de la Civilisation, Quebec City File:OttawaOldCityHall.JPG|Ottawa City Hall, Ottawa File:Blue Crystal tower.jpg|National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa File:Salt Lake City Public Library -IMG 1756.JPG|Salt Lake City Public Library, Utah File:Vancouver Library Square July 2004.jpg|Vancouver Library Square, Vancouver, British Columbia File:Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art--2012-04-12.jpg|Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas File:Marina Bay Sands and marine area.jpg|Marina Bay Sands, Singapore File:Skirball Architecture.jpg|Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, California File:United States Institute of Peace.jpg|United States Institute of Peace Headquarters, Washington, D.C. File:Khalsa Heritage Memorial 176 Edit.jpg|Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex, Anandpur Sahib, India


External links

The Moshe Safdie Archive – McGill University

Safdie Architects

TED All-Stars, Reinventing the Apartment Building Presentation, 2014

Moshe Safdie, AIA Gold Medal Award Acceptance Speech, 2015

The Power of Architecture, 2013

On Ethics, Order and Complexity by Moshe Safdie, 2009
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