Click on photos to enlarge.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Moshe Safdie

Golden Dream Bay, Heibei Province, China, Moshe Safdie
When I start writing about architects, it's tempting to land on one particularly outstanding example and sing the praises, or heap all the criticism on that one structure. Never has that been more of a temptation than in discussing the long, incredible career of the Israeli-born architect, Moshe Safdie. It must have been something of a mixed blessing back in the mid-1960s...yes, more than fifty years have achieved international acclaim as a result of his first major commission--Montreal's Habitat '67. Not every ambitious young architect makes architectural history so early on. It must have been quite a challenge to choose an encore. It was, indeed. Having established his own firm in 1964, Safdie's projects for the next ten years hollowing Habitat '67 were limited to various modest structures in the blossoming state of Israel.

Today, Safdie's frim has designed nearly forty structures around the world.
Safdie's Altair Towers in Colombo, Sri Lanka is seen above.)
Moshe Safdie was born into a family of Jewish Syrians living in what was then Palestine in 1938 (now Haifa, Israel). After apprenticing with the famed Louis Kahn in Philadelphia, Safdie returned to Montreal to oversee the master plan for Expo 67. In 1964, he established his own firm to undertake Habitat 67, an adaptation of his McGill thesis. Habitat '67, which pioneered the design and implementation of three-dimensional, prefabricated units for living, was a central feature of Expo '67 and an important development in architectural history. Safdie was awarded the 1967 Construction Man of the Year Award from the Engineering News Record and the Massey Medal for Architecture in Canada for Habitat '67.

Habitat '67--never before had so many room-size prefabricated blocks been joined on such a large scale.
Habitat '67 (above) is widely considered an architectural landmark and one of the most recognizable and spectacular buildings in both Montreal and Canada. The development was financed by the Canadian government, but is now owned by its tenants, who formed a limited partnership that purchased the building from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation in 1985. Safdie still owns a penthouse apartment in the building (four concrete cubes). Habitat 67's interlocking forms, connected walkways, and landscaped terraces were key in achieving Safdie's goal of a private and natural environment within the limits of a dense urban space. Habitat '67 comprises 354 identical, prefabricated concrete units 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 all held together by steel cables. 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 more than 1,000 square feet (20 to 90 square meters) in size.
Sky Habitat is one of Safdie's newest(2012) completed projects.
What's it like to own some of Safdie's stacked concrete cubes? Well, first of all you'd best be "made of money." A three-cube unit of 2390 square feet recently listed for $1,375,000. Moreover that doesn't include a monthly "contribution" of $2,705 for taxes, utilities, a single indoor parking space, a private storage locker, 24-hour security, a tennis club with clay courts, an Instructor. and free shuttle bus tickets to beautiful downtown Montreal. Life in Habitat '67, is unique in all the world. Located on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, Habitat's piling up of cubes seems to deny the laws of gravity, with its garden terraces, its fountains, and its large estate. (Habitat '67 was declared heritage building by the Government of Quebec in 2009, and has been recently restored.) However, if you've a yen to move to Singapore, there Safdie has designed a 21st century version which he calls Sky Habitat (above). The units there might cost a little more, though.
The Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, Singapore, designed by Moshe Safdie.
Or, you might choose Marina Bay (above), yet another Moshe Safdie high-rise apartment complex also in Singapore. Completed 1n 2010, the group of six slab-like buildings seem to lean lovingly against one another. Marina Bay also comes complete with its own arts and sciences museum designed by Safdie (below) in the shape of a Lotus blossom. As lovely it is to look at during the day, nighttime renders Safdie's creation even more spectacular.
A portion of Safdie's Marina Bay Sands can be seen in the background.
Not to be outdone by the Malaysians, the Chinese can also claim a Moshe Safdie as their own. Located in Heibei Province (north-central China). Safdie's Golden Dream project is set to become the crown jewel of that city's new Special Economic Zone (SEZ). Heibei is industrial China at its rawest: smog, relentless, incredible construction, and traffic stretching along hundreds of miles of expressways. While its attractions are obscured by its industrial output, the province has plenty of sightseeing, outdoor recreation, and skiing in a region where few international tourists venture. The builders of Safdie's Marina Bay hope to change all that.
The Marble Collegiate Church can be seen on the right.
And finally there's no reason one must trek to the Far East, or even Canada, to experience Safdie's revolutionary architecture. Officials of New York City's historic Marble Collegiate Church have recently unveiled plans for Safdie's first New York structure (above). Planned to rise on a Manhattan site at West 30th Street, between Broadway and 5th Avenue, the as-yet-unnamed 64-story mixed-use tower will feature a limestone base that compliments and serves its historic neighbor. The building will be distinguished by its vertical massing, which breaks down the scale of the tower into a series of three-story-high, offset projections. The offset projections also provide energy efficiency by self-shading the tower’s façade, further enhanced by additional sun shading of the south façade. The tower will house new administrative and programming spaces for Marble Collegiate’s congregation, the administrative staff of the Churches, and Intersections International, a major conflict resolution initiative of the Collegiate Church. Funds generated by the building will support both the restoration of the historic church and the vital programs of the Collegiate Churches.
Safdie's Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Kansas City, MO.


No comments:

Post a Comment