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Israeli Architect Wins Tuttleman Prize

December 8, 2005 By:
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Moshe Safdie's renderings of the Free Library of Philadelphia's planned $150 million renovation and expansion at its central branch are on display at the Gershman Y.

Renowned Israeli-born architect Moshe Safdie received the Tuttleman Foundation Cultural Award during a Dec. 5 program at Gratz College in Melrose Park.

More than 150 people were on hand for the occasion.

Safdie, who worked for Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn in the early 1960s, designed the new Holocaust History Museum at the Yad Vashem memorial, which opened earlier this year, as well as the Yitzhak Rabin Center for Israel Studies in Jerusalem. The Boston-based architect is currently working on the planned $150 million expansion of the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

"You hear the word Safdie and you think architecture," said Eliezer Wise, director of the Tuttleman Library at Gratz.

He explained that the library committee selected Safdie to be the recipient of the $1,000 prize because of the architect's contribution to "world culture" and to the Jewish community.

Originally called the Tuttleman Foundation Book Award when it was created 10 years ago, the honor initially recognized the work of academics. The committee decided to change directions in 2004, renaming the prize and then presenting it to actor and activist Theodore Bikel.

In an interview before the program, Safdie said that his design philosophy focuses on reinfusing ceremony into public space, much like what was done in ancient architecture.

Safdie was also in Philadelphia for the opening of the "Evolving Library" exhibition at the Gershman Y. The multimedia exhibit, which runs until Jan. 29, will showcase Safdie's models, photographs and renderings for the Free Library project.

The architect participated in a Dec. 4 panel discussion, attended by 200 people at the Gershman Y, called "Libraries and Civic Landmarks in the Digital Age." He joined four others, including Gary Hack, dean of the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania, and Elliot Shelkrot, president and director of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

For exhibit hours, call 215-446-3027.

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