Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is known not only for its remarkable collection of American masterworks, but also for its breathtaking architecture and natural setting. The museum was designed by international architect Moshe Safdie, with specific attention to integrating the building complex with the landscape and providing a venue in which visitors can enjoy art, architecture, and nature simultaneously. On May 31, Crystal Bridges will open Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie, a temporary exhibition that features nearly 200 objects, including scale models, sketches, photographs, and films of more than 30 projects, which trace the career of the world-renowned architect.
This unique exhibition explores both Moshe Safdie’s architecture and the philosophy that has shaped his practice through project materials and ephemera, on view in public areas throughout the museum. The exhibition surveys Safdie’s career from his formative period in the 1960s and early 1970s to his recent projects around the world, exploring his use of transcendent light, powerful geometric form, and metaphoric imagery.
The most comprehensive retrospective of Moshe Safdie’s achievements to date, Global Citizen traces his journey from Habitat ’67 in Montreal—a radical solution for quality, affordable housing, for which Safdie first commanded international notice—through the firm’s most recently completed and current projects from around the world, including Crystal Bridges; the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.; and the Khalsa Heritage Centre in Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, India. Global Citizen will also showcase Safdie Architects’ expanding presence across Asia, including the mega-scale project Marina Bay Sands, the 10-million-square-foot integrated resort and urban district on the Singapore waterfront, completed in 2011.
Conceived and created by Donald Albrecht, Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of the City of New York, Global Citizen explores the evolution of Moshe Safdie’s work and the humanistic design philosophy he has demonstrated throughout his nearly 50-year-long career. Together, the objects on view highlight Safdie’s belief that a building should be an extension of its physical, historical and cultural environments.
“Global Citizen offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about this innovative architect while directly experiencing his architecture through the museum’s design,” said Crystal Bridges Executive Director Rod Bigelow. “Visitors can see, hear and read about Safdie’s designs and philosophy while enjoying his integration of art, nature and sense of place first-hand.”
Organized by Crystal Bridges, in association with the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles—two of Safdie’s prominent cultural projects—Global Citizen will be on view through Sept. 1, 2014, integrated into the museum’s permanent collection galleries and public spaces. The exhibition is sponsored at Crystal Bridges by Airways Freight Corporation. General admission to Crystal Bridges is sponsored by Walmart; there is no cost to view the Global Citizen exhibition.
The Architecture of Moshe Safdie
During his career, Moshe Safdie has designed cultural, civic and educational institutions; mixed-use urban centers and airports; master plans for existing neighborhoods and entirely new cities. Often monumental but always inviting, many of his buildings are characterized by the use of transcendent light, powerful geometry and iconic forms. Informed by his design philosophy of “progressive contextualism,” Safdie’s projects are grounded in analyses of their natural, cultural and built environments. Through their integration of architecture with landscape, they provide dynamic social spaces.
“Through his buildings, Moshe Safdie has been especially adept at realizing the aspirations of a surprisingly diverse group of clients,” explained curator Donald Albrecht. “He has created buildings where communities are forged of strangers, memory is enshrined, and identity is created in built form.”
Global Citizen is organized into five sections, each dedicated to a pivotal point of development in Safdie’s design philosophy. Since its first showing—at the Safdie-designed National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa in 2010–2011—the exhibition has been enhanced with significant new material from projects completed since 2011.
The first section spotlights his early, formative work, in particular the groundbreaking Habitat ’67. Created for the 1967 World Exposition in Montreal, the apartment complex soon became an icon for both the world fair and its host city. Widely considered a landmark of housing design, modern architecture and city planning, Habitat ’67 was inspired by the hillside villages of Safdie’s native Israel. Its stacked, concrete box structure made bold use of prefabricated materials and introduced innovative concepts for circulation and transportation networks. This section also details Safdie’s early efforts to replicate the ideas of Habitat across the globe, including in New York City, Puerto Rico and Israel.
A full section of Global Citizen is devoted to Safdie’s significant contributions to Israel’s architectural landscape, including projects such as Ben Gurion International Airport, Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum, Hebrew Union College, and Mamilla Center.
Further examples of Safdie’s design and building process are seen in a section dedicated to his North American projects, among them the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Salt Lake City Public Library, Utah; United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C.; Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles; and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Embraced as powerful expressions of civic and national identities, many of these structures include grand spaces for communal exchange, such as sky-lit lobbies and monumental colonnades.
In addition, the exhibition considers the future of the global city. Developed specifically for Global Citizen, “Habitat of the Future” presents an evolutionary reworking of Habitat. The culmination of two years of design research, “Habitat of the Future” proposes new design strategies in four different studies that innovatively address the growing density of cities around the world.
Related Programs, Audio Tour, Catalog & More
An exhibition catalog, Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie, featuring essays by Moshe Safdie, curator Donald Albrecht, and critic Sarah Williams Goldhagen, is available for purchase at Crystal Bridges Museum Store.
As an enhancement to this exhibition, an audio tour focusing on the architecture of Crystal Bridges is available as part of the museum’s free app, downloadable to Apple and Android devices. In addition, regular drop-in guided tours of the museum’s architecture are offered at no cost at 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Additional information about the exhibition, as well as a full schedule of related programming and events, is available online.
The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities.
Opened to the public on 11-11-11, Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. Philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton chairs the Museum’s board of directors. Since its opening, the Museum has welcomed nearly 1.3 million visitors, and garnered more than 7,900 households in its membership. Some 39,000 school children have participated in the Museum’s Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost to the schools. More than 220,000 visitors a year utilize the Museum’s 3.5 miles of walking trails.
Crystal Bridges takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. Guest amenities include a restaurant on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds, a Museum Store designed by architect Marlon Blackwell, and a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material. Sculpture and walking trails link the Museum’s 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.
Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection spans five centuries of American masterworks ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. Included within the collection are iconic images such as Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, and Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola — each reflecting a distinct moment in American artistic evolution—as well as major works by modern and contemporary American artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, John Baldessari, and James Turrell. The permanent collection, which continues to grow through a strategic acquisition plan, is on view year-round and is enhanced by an array of temporary exhibitions, which were viewed by some 216,000 visitors in 2013.
Crystal Bridges provides year-round programming for all ages. In 2013, more than 300 public programs were offered, including lectures, performances, classes, and continuing education for K-12 teachers. An award-winning app, available free for both Apple and Android devices, features audio tours of current and past exhibitions, and many of the Museum’s lectures and gallery talks are available in Crystal Bridges’ iTunes U site. A new initiative to develop high-quality distance-learning opportunities for students and teachers begins this year.
Crystal Bridges also offers two research fellowship programs. The Tyson Scholars in American Art program supports full-time scholarship in the history of American art. The Reese Teacher Fellowship provides for research into the development of interdisciplinary connections between American art and core curriculum subjects of language arts, history, social studies, and the sciences.
Additional information about Crystal Bridges is available online at CrystalBridges.org.
To stay up to date on Crystal Bridges news, follow the museum on Twitter @crystalbridges.
About Moshe Safdie
Moshe Safdie is an architect, urban planner, educator, theorist, and author who embraces a comprehensive and humane design philosophy. In keeping with a philosophical approach that Safdie has applied around the world for more than four decades, the design of each of his projects is responsive to local historic, cultural, and environmental contexts and grows out of a vision of the way it can affect the lives of the individuals for whom the buildings and public spaces are created. Safdie engages in an iterative design process, working closely with the client and consultants to test each project’s program, refine design ideas, and facilitate the development of appropriate and effective solutions. Safdie Architects is committed to architecture that supports and enhances a project’s program; that is informed by the geographic, social, and cultural elements that define a place; and that responds to human needs and aspirations.
The firm has designed and realized a wide range of projects around the world, including cultural, civic, and educational institutions; mixed-use urban centers and airports; and master plans for existing neighborhoods and entirely new cities, many of which have become landmarks in their communities, including Habitat ’67 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts; the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort in Singapore; and Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Israel. Recent openings include the Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex, the national museum of the Sikh people in India; the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters in Washington, D.C.; the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri; and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Safdie Architects is based in Boston with offices in Toronto, Jerusalem, Singapore, and Shanghai.