Moshe Safdie

Moshe Safdie

A weeklong electronic journal.
Feb. 13 1998 3:30 AM

Moshe Safdie

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       Started the morning with a good swim in the beautiful Bel Air pool. At 9 a.m. I'm at the Skirball Cultural Center for a full board of trustees meeting. After a presentation on programming, I present the design for the additions to the center using drawings, models, and sketches. I present cost estimates and plan-approval status. Morris Bergreen, acting as chairman, moves that the board authorize construction and commits the Skirball Foundation to $30 million of the total $36 million needed. There is a good discussion. Spirits are high.

       We lunch with the Haases, and I have a brief summary meeting with my staff and Uri Herscher. Meanwhile, about 25 faxed pages arrive from Boston and Jerusalem--the Rabin memorial archive, Peabody Essex Museum, Toronto International Airport. I take half the pages and go to sketch over them, make notes, and fax back. Uri Herscher and I find a few minutes to talk of personal matters of great significance.

       At 3 p.m. I'm picked up by a member of the faculty at the California Polytechnic University at Pomona, where I am to give a major public lecture. We drive through Pasadena and other urban sprawl, arriving by 4:30 p.m. with half an hour to spare. I visit a design studio and critique students' projects. There is a 5 p.m. reception in my honor and at 6 p.m., the lecture. Some 400 people, a mix of students and architects. I speak about ethics in the profession and present the ideas in my new book, The City After the Automobile. This is followed by a slide presentation of recent and older projects. I criticize the current fashion of violent and chaotic forms in architecture and plead for a search for serenity, calmness, and the humanization of megascale.

       Enthusiastic applause is followed by questions. There are some good ones. How would I reorganize a school of architecture compared with current practice? I respond in detail. There is not much time left, as I'm taking the red-eye to New York at 11 p.m. We have a fast dinner with several faculty and more discussion of the lecture. I'm driven to the L.A. airport and board the despised red-eye. In five hours I'll be in New York, and an hour later will join a major workshop with our colleagues on the Toronto airport. It has been a long day. I hope I can sleep.

Moshe Safdie is an architect with offices in Boston, Jerusalem, and Toronto, and the author, most recently, of The City After the Automobile (1997).