Tracy Powell


Moshe Safdie, FAIA, is the winner of the 2015 Gold Medal. The Israeli-born architect moved to Montreal as a teenager in 1953. One of his first landmark projects was Habitat '67, a series of stacked living units that has its roots in his graduate thesis project at McGill University, and was realized for Expo 67, Montreal's 1967 World's Fair. Safdie established an eponymous firm, Safdie Architects, and opened an office in Jerusalem in 1970, and another, where he is currently still based, in Somerville, Mass., in 1978. The firm also has offices in Toronto, Singapore, and Shanghai.

Safdie has long focused on urban-scaled projects, and those that mix orthogonal grids with curving forms. Notable projects include the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem; the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark.; the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.; and the Marina Bay Sands complex in Singapore.

“Moshe Safdie has continued to practice architecture in the purest and 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,” said Boston Society of Architects president Emily Grandstaff-Rice, AIA, in her nomination letter.

In addition to his design work, Safdie has also had a career-long focus on education. He has taught at McGill University, Yale University, and Ben-Gurion University, and was the director of the urban design program at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design from 1978–84. Education is a continued focus in his practice today—his Somerville office hosts two research fellows per year.

In addition to the AIA Gold Medal, Safdie's career honors include numerous design awards and the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of Canada. He is also a Companion of the Order of Canada.

The AIA Gold Medal is conferred annually by the AIA’s Board of Directors to an individual or individuals who have made a lasting impact on architectural theory and practice. Recent recipients include Julia Morgan (2014; the first woman to receive the honor), Thom Mayne, FAIA (2013), Steven Holl, FAIA (2012), Fumihiko Maki, Hon. FAIA (2011), and Peter Bohlin, FAIA (2010). Safdie will receive the 2015 Gold Medal at a ceremony at the AIA Convention in Atlanta in May. 

This year's jury for the AIA Gold Medal included Linna Jane Frederick, FAIA, principal of Frederick + Frederick Architects (chair); Stephen Ayers, FAIA, Architect of the Capitol; Jim Childress, FAIA, partner at Centerbrook Architects and Planners; Sho-Ping Chin, FAIA, principal with Payette; Timothy J. Dufault, AIA, president and CEO of Cuningham Group Architecture in Minneapolis; Thom Mayne, FAIA, principal of Morphosis in Culver City, Calif.; and Edward A. Shriver, FAIA, a principal of Strada Architecture in Pittsburgh. 

Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the writer of the nomination letter. It has been updated.

This is a breaking news story, and will continue to be updated. 

Read the AIA's full release on the AIA Gold Medal.

Follow ARCHITECT's coverage of the AIA Honor Awards.