Canadian Architect


New exhibition at UQAM Centre de Design celebrates 50th anniversary of Habitat ’67

May 11, 2017
by Canadian Architect

Photo credit: Image by Timothy Hursley

Photo credit: Image by Timothy Hursley

This summer, the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Centre de Design will host a special exhibition examining architect Moshe Safdie’s pioneering urban housing complex Habitat ’67, its manifestation over the course of Safdie’s global career, and its lasting influence on the architectural field at large.

A Canadian National Heritage Site and living landmark, Habitat ’67 evolved from Safdie’s thesis project at McGill University and was commissioned by the Canadian government, the province of Quebec, and the city of Montreal as a major, living exhibition for the 1967 World’s Exposition. From the moment it opened, Habitat ’67 captured the international public imagination and has become an enduring icon of Expo ’67 and Canadian pride. It remains to this day a source of inspiration for architecture devoted to humanistic ideals.

On view from June 1 through August 13, 2017, Habitat ‘67 vers l’avenir/ The Shape of Things to Come traces the trajectory of Safdie’s work from its origins to the present, demonstrating how Safdie has consistently applied the design principles and ideologies he introduced as part of Habitat ’67 to every project since that time. Jointly organized by Safdie Architects and UQAM’s Centre de Design with curatorial direction from independent curator Donald Albrecht, the exhibition opens with archival images and objects from the project’s origins with conceptual drawings, models, bringing them together with plans for unbuilt iterations of Habitat that Safdie designed soon after for New York, Puerto Rico, and Israel.

Moshe Safdie With Expo chief architect Edouard Fiset, 1966. Photo credit: Collection of Safdie Architects

Moshe Safdie With Expo chief architect Edouard Fiset, 1966. Photo credit: Collection of Safdie Architects

“Moshe Safdie’s career has traced a remarkable trajectory in the canon of modern architecture,” says guest curator Donald Albrecht, “from his famous Habitat ’67 to projects he designed in its immediate wake, which this exhibition sheds new light on, to twenty-first-century reimaginings of Habitat ’67 that address Safdie’s career-long commitment to a dense, yet humane, urbanism.”

The exhibition continues with the presentation of “Habitat for the Future,” a series of models and renderings developed by a team of architects involved in a two-year research fellowship working with Moshe Safdie and principals from Safdie Architects revisiting and reimagining how one might approach building Habitat in current times. Many of the prototypes that emerged from the fellowship have catalyzed creative solutions to today’s increasingly complex building challenges, and are materializing through Safdie’s current global housing and mixed-use projects.

Habitat 67, construction image, 1966. Photo credit: Collection of Safdie Architects

Habitat 67, construction image, 1966. Photo credit: Collection of Safdie Architects

The exhibition culminates with models and photographs from several recent projects around the world, many of which will make their public debut at UQAM Centre de Design.

“Habitat 67 is more than just Montreal’s favourite building – it’s one of the most important architectural constructions of our time. Its great promise, to industrialize and democratize modern, high density, humanist housing throughout the world stands as one of the most ambitious endeavors of the previous century” adds Patrick Evans, UQAM Centre de design director.

“With a concept that was daring for its time, Habitat 67 is a symbol of Montréal’s spirit of innovation. The Government of Québec is pleased to support this exhibition on an architectural project that continues to contribute to our city’s international reputation,” said Martin Coiteux, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy, Minister of Public Security, and Minister Responsible for the Montréal Region.

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