Award-winning Israeli-born Architect Honored by Montreal Jewish Community

Moshe Safdie, an award-winning Israeli-born, Canadian-trained architect, was honored by the Jewish community here Sunday night and praised by visiting Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem for his work in modernizing Israel’s capital.

A gathering of more than 500 persons at Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue raised over $1.3 million (Canadian) to establish a chair in urban studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in memory of Safdie’s father, Leon.

Safdie, a McGill University graduate, has just completed the new National Gallery in Ottawa and is working on the Museum of Civilization in Quebec City. Kollek hailed his accomplishments in Jerusalem, for which he has received the Hebrew University’s Scopus Award for exceptional service to the city of Jerusalem and the State of Israel.

Kollek stressed the importance of Safdie’s concept of linking the old sections of Jerusalem to the new by commercial malls. He spoke specifically of the transformation of the old Maamilah Road into a modern mall.

A CHALLENGE TO THE YOUNG GENERATION

Safdie responded that the solution of urban problems presents a challenge to the young generation. The main challenge, he said, is “to make Israel more attractive and competitive for talented people afraid to settle there because of relatively modest opportunities.”

He said that his Jewish upbringing and the influence of his native Haifa’s architectural style inspired his new forms and shapes for human habitation.

Twenty years ago, at “Expo-67″ in Montreal, Safdie was honored for his innovative architectural housing design known as Habitat. Safdie, who once presided over Harvard’s urban design program, is now about to change the face of New York City as the architect in charge of the $1 billion redevelopment of the Coliseum site at Columbus Circle.

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