Born in Haifa, Israel in 1938, Safdie moved with his family to Montreal in 1953. He studied architecture at McGill University, and after graduation worked with AIA Gold Medalist Louis Kahn, FAIA, in Philadelphia. He returned to Montreal to work on Habitat ’67. Safdie then began a series of teaching posts that culminated with his appointment as the director of the urban design program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design from 1978–84. Since 1978, Safdie has been based in Boston. This is a pattern seen throughout Safdie’s architecture: the broad, explicit combination of grid-based forms with fluid curves. Safdie’s work naturally melds opposing forms – fusing arcs into squares, spheres into cubes, and ovals into rectangles – to create emotionally evocative architecture.
In her nomination letter, Boston Society of Architects president Emily Grandstaff-Rice, AIA, wrote: “Moshe Safdie has continued to practice architecture in the most complete sense of the word, without regard for fashion, with a hunger to follow ideals and ideas across the globe in his teaching, writing, practice and research.”