Natural Habitat: Moshe Safdie's "Global Citizen"

Published on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 by Webmaster

Natural Habitat: Moshe Safdie's
This past fall, Skirball Cultural Center opened the "Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie," a sweeping exhibition that delves deep into the work and nearly fifty-year-long career of the Israeli/Canadian architect. Models, drawings, photographs, and films illustrate a body of work that spans from North America to the Middle East and Asia. The title underscores not only the geographical breadth of Safdie's work, but his commitment to making architecture as a social, cultural, and, even, political act.

The U.S. premiere of the show, "Global Citizen" was timed to coincide with the completion of the Skirball's fifteen-acre campus designed by Safdie. Conceived by Donald Albrecht, curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of the City of New York, the exhibition first opened at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, in 2010 before traveling to two other Canadian museums and arriving in Los Angeles. Located just off the 405 Freeway, on terrace carved into the hillside, the Skirball was the architect's first cultural building in the United States and the commission began a thirty-year partnership with the center. To mark the occasion, "Global Citizen" curators added an entire room dedicated to the Center's architecture.

At a gathering organized by the Israeli consulate, managing curator Erin Curtis touted the architect's "progressive contextualism" or sensitivity to the landscape in the work and she relayed his understanding that respect for nature is a key Jewish value. A Safdie quote hangs on an opposite wall and reads: "I was moved by the beauty of the site, nestled in the hills -- an oasis of nature in the heart of a metropolitan region; soft and feminine hills and valley inlets."

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