Habitat 67, celebrating its 50th birthday this year, is one of Montreal’s architectural symbols. The ambitious project was done by architect Moshe Safdie, just graduated from McGill. He was given the opportunity to realize his thesis’ project for 1967 World’s Exposition.
The initial project was to build low cost homes by using prefabricated modular blocks. The main idea, hence to provide local shops within the construction, had to be abandoned for financial reasons. However, the project still respects the idea to offer the same advantages than a house in a residential suburb, like having an outside view without any vis-à-vis, a garden and a private terrace.
During the Exposition, part of the project could be visited; nowadays it is necessary to reserve to have this opportunity, since most of these luxury homes are inhabited. Nonetheless, the concept is still a pride for the city.
“Habitat 67 is more than just Montreal’s favorite 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”, explains Patrick Evans.
"With a concept that was daring for its time, Habitat 67 is a symbol of Montréal's spirit of innovation.”
Habitat represents a turning point in housing design, modern architecture, and urban planning in Quebec.
It enjoys today the status of a Canadian National Heritage Site and living landmark.
About Moshe Safdie
Moshe Safdie is an architect, urban planner, educator, theorist, and author. In keeping with a philosophical approach, he has applied globally across an array of project types for more than five decades. The design of each of Safdie’s projects is responsive to local historic, cultural, and environmental contexts. In recognition of his work’s impact and his lasting influence on generations of younger architects, Safdie was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Cooper Hewitt’s 2016 National Design Awards, the 1995 Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of Canadian Architects, and the 2015 Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects, the organization’s highest honor.
Moshe Safdie founded his firm, Safdie Architects, in 1964 to realize Habitat 67, the pioneering housing complex for the 1967 World’s Exposition. Safdie Architects’ present work continues to carry through the firm’s founding values—architecture with a purpose, humanizing megascale, responding to the essence of place, building responsibly, and shaping the public realm.
Photos: Timothy Hursley , Studio Graetz, Engel & Völkers, Sotherbys, Guylaine Proulx