Moshe Safdie Architect interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel

Reading this interview with Moshe Safdie in Queens Quarterly while waiting out the prep of Thanksgiving dinner.

Referencing his experience with McGills mega-hospital, a project he resigned from, he says; Most buildings going up have little or no archtectural input  in their design. Most everything is predetermind by developers.

The government sets up the procedure which minimizes the governments involvement in the building with a P3 public-private partnership. Government says, ‘We have so much money – give us the proposals. You design the facility, you operate it, you hire the architect and engineers, give us a product within the budget.’ 

This is happening across the board with jails, with airports and with hospitals. 

“I suppose at some point it’ll happen with houses of parliament. Who knows where the end of the line is?” 

Safdie feels this process stifles any innovation. The developers are out to deliver a product at the lowest cost. They have to. That’s the process. If they don’t, they don’t get the job. 

Architects are hired who’ll do an expeditious job. There is no place to reinvent or rethink past the lowest common denominator that’ll do the job, which is okay for a warehouse or a parking garage, but for buildings of a greater cultural purpose it is questionable. 

When the private sector developer decides what our libraries will look like, what our hospitals will look like,  we are saying the marketplace is going to decide our image, our fundamental image 

Buildings tell the story of our culture. When we delegate that to the marketplace, to the lowest common denominator, we are saying something about ourselves. 

Queens Quarterly Summer 2008 
Moshe Safdie architect interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel

A very Gehry parking spot