The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced Moshe Safdie and Ehrlich Architects as recipients, respectively, of its 2015 Gold Medal and Architecture Firm Award, the organization’s highest honors. “I don’t want to call the award a culmination because I am pretty active and I want to keep going,” jokes Safdie, who is celebrating his practice’s fiftieth anniversary.
Born in 1938 in Haifa, Israel, Safdie cites the young nation’s solidarity-infused atmosphere as a strong influence in his architectural approach—a socially-focused architecture. After an apprenticeship under Louis Kahn (1971 Gold Medal recipient), Safdie designed Habitat 67 in Montreal, which, according to the architect, is “still no doubt my most radical achievement.” Other celebrated works include YadVashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem, the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort in Singapore, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
“For me this award is so moving because the Gold Medal is something you get from your peers,” Safdie says. In his case, these peers—who wrote recommendation letters for Safdie—include Mohsen Mostafavi, Richard Rogers, and Frank Gehry, who wrote in his recommendation letter: “The world at large is a better place because of [Safdie’s] work.”
Safdie won out over two other finalists—Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown and Eric Owen Moss.