The Moshe Safdie Archive, the largest of the 75 fonds of major Canadian architects administered by the CAC, is one of the most extensive individual collections of architectural documentation in Canada. In 1990, Moshe Safdie, the McGill-trained architect, author and educator, generously donated his archives which started an on-going bequest to the Canadian Architecture Collection (CAC) at McGill University. Ranked among the elite architects practicing in the world today, Safdie is beyond question an architect of great cultural importance. One of the primary means of understanding Safdie's singular contribution to contemporary architecture is through the consultation of documents relating to various stages of a project, available through the different types of documentation held in the Safdie Archive. Accompanied by extensive audio-visual material (film, audio tape, VHS, DVD), the Archive provides numerous opportunities for students and researchers to examine not only the work of Moshe Safdie, but the nature and scope of contemporary architectural documentation as well.
Please note that materials for select projects may not yet be held in the Archive; links to these projects' respective inventories will appear when their materials have been accessioned.
In 1995, the Canadian Architecture Collection undertook a website project designed to present the exceptional richness and scope of research material in the Moshe Safdie Archive. Also, this project was intended to serve as a conceptual and pedagogical model for the study of the works of contemporary Canadian architects. The results were presented on the CAC's website. The website, launched in 1998, was comprised of two elements: a virtual exhibit and an online hypermedia archive documenting Safdie's career from architectural studies to professional practice and worldwide acclaim. The Safdie Hypermedia Archive website was enriched at all levels of project phases by the creation of an inventory documenting each architectural project with a complete record of the images/drawings, project file material, and related media in the Safdie Archive.
The extensive holdings of the Safdie Archive reveal that modern architectural practices differ in certain important respects from those of the past. For example, the volume of material documenting the design work of a practicing architect today is many times larger than that of architects from the 19th and early 20th century (Maxwell, Nobbs, Traquair). Additionally, with the widespread adoption of CAD applications in the field of architecture, recent project-related documents are increasingly born digital. The Safdie Archive therefore needs continual monitoring and upgrading, and in this respect digital technology offers an ideal medium for providing access to, and communicating the essence of, each project.
An updated and revised version of the online inventory was launched in September 2011 as part of a major reorganization of the Safdie Archive. This reorganization allowed us to make the archive easier to access and more dynamic and responsive to the teaching and research needs of the academic and professional community. The 2011 reorganization and update better reflects the work of Moshe Safdie in terms of both the projects and materials included in the archive and provides McGill University with a more coherent and accessible archive for on-going study and research. The 2011 project team thanks the Safdie Architects office, especially Christopher Mulvey, Principal, for his assiduous review of the archive and for providing valuable general direction for this project, and Jarod Canger, Document Controller, for his sustained efforts in resolving project documentation issues and dealing with the physical materials.
Recently, the Archive has seen an increase of activity. Since 2014, we have received and accessioned the materials of several more projects including the Peabody Essex Museum, the Salt Lake City Main Public Library, and the Khalsa Heritage Centre. These most recent project materials are now discoverable in the online inventory. In 2015, we migrated the website from its previous custom design, the Hypermedia Archive, to a McGill Digital Initiatives exhibition template. This has given the Archive’s online presence a new and functional look and feel while at the same time highlighting its important place both within the Canadian Architecture Collection and the McGill Library’s collection as a whole. A revised image collection, featuring photos, architectural drawings, and/or sketches from all of Safdie’s projects including recent ones such as the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort and Sky Habitat, has also been added.
We would like to thank Christa Mahar and Maureen Jennings of Safdie Architects, as well as Kate Murphy, for making this migration possible. We would also like to thank the staff of Digital Initiatives, especially Sarah Severson, Greg Houston, and Elizabeth Thomson, as well as Megan Chellew, Collection Services and Alexandra Kohn, Office of Copyright Compliance for their collaboration in bringing this site online. We would especially like to thank Moshe Safdie for his invaluable input throughout the course of this project.