Global Citizen

The exhibition, Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie, explores Safdie's structures and the philosophy that shapes them through approximately 175 drawings, sketches, videos, photographs and scale models. Discover how the world-renowned Israeli-born architect, who studied at McGill University, designed impressive buildings and created avant-garde communities in Canada, the United States and across the world. This exhibition presents both Safdie's formative work of the 1960s and his more recent projects.

Global Citizen was organized by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, and the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, with the assistance of McGill University. The exhibition tour included the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa from October 6, 2010-January 9, 2011; the Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago from May 7-September 18, 2011; the Skirball Cultural Center from October 23, 2013-March 2, 2014, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art from May 31-September 1, 2014. The exhibition will appear in New York City at the National Academy Museum from September 10, 2015-January 6, 2016 and at the Boston Society of Architects BSA/Space in Boston, March 16 - May 22, 2016.

Habitat '67, designed by Moshe Safdie and built as part of Expo, the World's Fair hosted by Montreal in 1967, has become an internationally recognized example of experimental housing whose place in the history of twentieth-century architecture is assured. Will Habitat '67 maintain its hegemony as a building for the new millennium? This premise is explored through a comprehensive analysis of the continuing viability of high-density, urban cluster housing as documented by structural, spatial and climatic changes. Given the exceptional richness and scope of material for Habitat '67 in the Safdie Archive, this legacy website continues to serve as a conceptual and pedagogical model for the study of a contemporary Canadian architect.

This case-study website includes comprehensive sketches, plans, elevations, sections, working drawings, structural details, and photographs of models. Digital panoramic views are included which capture the structure in successive seasons. The three-dimensional modeling of Habitat '67 is rendered in terms of architectural details, component layering and topography. Images from the initial phases of the project and its construction are included, as are interviews and case studies featuring first- and second-generation Habitat residents.

This legacy virtual exhibit highlights what has become the single most dominant aspect of Safdie's work: large-scale public projects with a distinct cultural and educational mission.

The exhibit aims to draw attention to two aspects in particular. First is an inherent plurality of 'cultures' informing the design itself: location, site, memory of place, functions envisaged, the full 'user spectrum' of the prospective building, the nature and complexity of the collections or mission, together with the pressing necessity to make these live in a manner at once exciting and comprehensible to different audiences. Social, economic and political dynamics also form part of the polysemic matrix which ultimately shapes the architect's design.

A second focus is the expanding range of international commissions and competitions that have led Moshe Safdie to design and build for cultures outside his triangular 'home base' of Israel, Canada and the United States. As exemplified by the passionate debate that Habitat engendered both at home and abroad, Safdie's work has been international from the beginning. Yet, recent projects such as the competition for the Shenzhen Cultural Center in China, or the Khalsa Heritage Centre built in Punjab, India, have been marked departures from the more established international presence of Safdie's designs in Europe and North America. The challenge of designing within, and for, such different cultures can be both inspiring and overwhelming.

Other Exhibitions

Past exhibitions of Safdie's designs include Building a New Museum (Peabody Essex Museum, 2003-2004); Moshe Safdie, Museum Architecture 1971-1998 (Tel Aviv University, 1998); Moshe Safdie, Projects: 1979-1989 (Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 1989); and For Everyone a Garden (Baltimore Museum of Art, National Gallery of Canada, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1973-1974).