Press Release

Cooper Hewitt Awards Moshe Safdie its Lifetime Achievement Award in 17th Annual National Design Awards, Celebrating 50 Years of Safdie's Humanist Approach to Design

Somerville, MA
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Today Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Director Caroline Baumann announced that internationally renowned architect Moshe Safdie has been recognized for Lifetime Achievement in the 2016 National Design Awards. Launched at the White House in 2000 as a project of the White House Millennium Council, the awards were established to promote design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world, to celebrate excellence and innovation across a variety of disciplines, and to honor lasting achievement in American design. The Lifetime Achievement Award is given in recognition of a distinguished individual who has made a profound and long-term contribution to the contemporary practice of design. Safdie and his fellow recipients will be honored this October at the Cooper Hewitt’s 17th annual National Design Awards gala program in New York.

Moshe Safdie is an architect, urban planner, educator, theorist, and author. Over a celebrated 50-year career, Safdie has continued to explore the essential principles of socially responsible design with a distinct visual language. His humanistic philosophy on architecture and urbanism focuses on the design of the public realm and the essence of place. Beginning with his architectural thesis at McGill University in 1964 and his first built project, the seminal Habitat ’67 in Montréal, Canada, a national Heritage site, Safdie’s catalogue of work and contributions to the dialogue on sustainable urbanism are unsurpassed in contemporary practice.

“I am honored and humbled by this wonderful acknowledgement, which I share with the other honorees practicing across the design spectrum,” said Moshe Safdie.  “To plan our cities and buildings with humanity, and with respect for the public realm, is the most urgent design challenge that we face in this ever densifying world.”  

Safdie’s projects can be found in North and South America, the Middle East, the developing world and throughout Asia and Australia, spanning a wide range of typologies, including airports, museums, performing arts, libraries, housing, mixed use and master plans for entire cities. Many projects have become revered regional and national landmarks, including Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem; United States Institute of Peace Headquarters, Washington, D.C.; Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex, the national museum of the Sikh people in India; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas; and Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, Singapore. Safdie has been widely recognized for his enduring influence on the built environment and was recently awarded the 2015 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal. He continues to inspire through new high density mixed-use and urban housing with current and recent projects around the world, including Singapore; Chongqing, China; Cartagena, Columbia; Colombo, Sri Lanka; and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. 

The National Design Awards are bestowed in recognition of excellence, innovation, and enhancement of the quality of life. Reflecting the ever-growing scope of design, the National Design Awards program now includes ten jury-selected award categories and a Director’s Award selected by the museum. The defining criteria of the National Design Awards are excellence, innovation, and enhancement of the quality of life. The awards are accompanied each year by a variety of public education programs, including special events, panel discussions and workshops. The awards program seeks to increase national awareness of the impact of design through education initiatives. 

About Moshe Safdie FAIA and Safdie Architects

Moshe Safdie FAIA is an architect, urban planner, educator, theorist, and author. In keeping with a philosophical approach that Safdie has applied around the world for more than five decades, the design of each of his projects is responsive to local historic, cultural, and environmental contexts. In recognition of his work’s impact around the world and his lasting influence on generations of younger architects, Safdie was awarded the 2015 Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects, the organization’s highest honor. 

Safdie and his firm, Safdie Architects, have designed and realized a wide range of projects around the world, including cultural, civic, and educational institutions; mixed-use urban centers and airports; and masterplans for existing neighborhoods and entirely new cities.

Notable projects include Habitat ’67 in Montreal; Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort and ArtScience Museum in Singapore; the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles; and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. Safdie Architects is based in Boston with offices in Toronto, Jerusalem, Singapore, and Shanghai. For more information, visit

About Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Founded in 1897, Cooper Hewitt is the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. On Dec. 12, 2014, Cooper Hewitt reopened in the renovated and restored Carnegie Mansion, which offers 60 percent more exhibition space to showcase one of the most diverse and comprehensive collections of design works in existence. The renovation of the Carnegie Mansion and museum campus was recognized with LEED Silver certification. Currently on view are nine exhibitions and installations featuring hundreds of objects throughout four floors of the mansion, including the fifth installment of the museum’s contemporary design exhibition series, “Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial,” “Thom Browne Selects” and “Pixar: The Design of Story.” Visitors can experience a full range of new interactive capabilities, including the opportunity to explore the collection digitally on ultra-high-definition touch-screen tables, draw their own designs in the Immersion Room and address design problems in the Process Lab. For more information, visit


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Timothy Hursley

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