The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres du Québec is presented’s board chair and president, one of the most pleasant aspects of my duties is presenting the OALQ’s insignia to various exceptional individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to Quebec’s cultural landscape through a combination of hard work, talent, vision and commitment. Mr. Safdie was made a Compagnon des arts et des lettres du Québec in 2016 but was unable to attend the ceremony at that time. His insignia was presented to him on May 31, 2017, in conjunction with the conference organized by the UQAM Design Centre.
Although Moshe Safdie established his architectural firm in Boston and is a “citizen of the world” who travels from continent to continent overseeing a flourishing portfolio of projects, he will always have a special place in Montreal. This is where his very first built work was produced, certainly one of his most important. Mr. Safdie’s immense contribution to Quebec culture can be summed up in two words: Habitat 67. On the strength of this daring residential complex, a 25-year-old visionary and recent architecture graduate entered the history books. At the same time, Montreal gained a symbol of its modernity that went on to receive worldwide recognition. Over the past 50 years, this masterwork has remained cutting edge—a source of fascination, inspiration and pride.
Propelled by his imagination, Moshe Safdie gave flight to concrete structures while showing that urban density and originality can go hand in hand. As a powerful rejoinder to traditional urban architecture and its standardized series of anonymous multiple-storey towers, Habitat 67 proved that a medieval village could be the catalyst for a radical break with the past as city dwellers could maintain their individuality within the wider community while tending to their own apartment gardens.
Moshe Safdie’s sustainable urban design ties in neatly with the CALQ’s mission to foster sustainable artistic development by supporting excellence and accessibility in keeping with the principles of equity.
Mr. Safdie’s long career has been graced by a number of prestigious honours and awards, of which the Compagnon des arts et des lettres du Québec is the most recent. The candidates for this award are nominated by third parties and selected by an independent panel, one of whose members is here with us tonight, Mr. René Homier-Roy, whom I would like to acknowledge. Mr. Homier-Roy has a direct connection with Mr. Safdie since he has the very good fortune to be a resident of Habitat 67.
Although the OALQ’s award does not come with any financial remuneration, it represents a combination of great love, high esteem and deep gratitude. It is symbolized by an insignia designed by jeweller Christine Dwane, so may be worn like a piece of jewellery near the heart, the wellspring of our dreams and emotions.
I would like to invite Mr. Safdie to come to the stage to receive his insignia, which marks his inclusion in the illustrious family of the Compagnes et Compagnons des arts and des lettres du Québec.
Speech delivered by Marie Côté, Board chair, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for the presentation of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec to Moshe Safdie on May 31, 2017, in conjunction with the conference organized by the UQAM Design Centre, in Montréal. The CALQ thanks Patrick Evans and the UQAM Design Centre.
Information about the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec