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Morley Blankstein

Moshe Safdie

Safdie's Mamilla project in Jerusalem

The Morley Blankstein Lectureship In Architecture and Town Planning At The Technion

December 15, 2010

Morley Blankstein, Past President of the Winnipeg Chapter of the Canadian Technion Society, a National Board Member and a retired award winning architect   was honoured by the Winnipeg Jewish Community , establishing the Lectureship in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion Israel  Institute of Technology in Haifa.
The Lectureship Fund was set up in 1984. Initially this fund was used to support a staff position and research in Architecture and City Planning. Morley and Marjorie Blankstein subsequently enhanced the fund and the inaugural lectureship took place in 2009.   

The inaugural  Lecture took place in 2009, and the first guest speaker was the internationally acclaimed Canadian architect Jack Diamond. Jack Diamond is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Gold Medal, respectively the highest civilian and professional honours a Canadian can achieve. 

This year's 2010 lecture was given by internationally renowned architect and a  native of Haifa, Moshe Safdie. [A brief summary of his lecture follows at the end of this article]

The Lectureship was designed to be a very important stimulating educational experience for architectural students today, as it was for him when he was a student of architecture who was exposed to world class architects.
The Lectureship not only brings internationally famous architects to Technion to give a public lecture on his or her work, but enables lecturers to spend some time with architectural students informally in their lab, discussing architecture in its various forms and purposes.
Blankstein notes that “A committee made up the Technion’s Department of Architecture includes myself and Douglas Gilmor.” Gilmor is a former partner of Morely’s  and a former academic at the schools of architecture at the University of Manitoba and the University of Calgary, choose the Lecturers.”

Morley, who has been is a long time supporter of Canadian Technion Society serves as  Honourary Vice Chair of the National Board  and  is also a  member of the International Board of Governors of Technion . He received an Honourary Fellowship from the Technion in 1981.

When asked how he first became involved with the Technion, Blankstein answered,” Judge Roy Matas and Archie Micay recruited me in the early 60s, and also because the only school of architecture in Israel was at the Technion.”

Morley graduated in Architecture from the University of Manitoba in 1949, and then did two years of post graduate studies in Chicago at Illinois Institute of Technology receiving a Masters of Science Degree in Architecture in 1952.

He began his own firm that eventually became known as “The Number Ten Architectural Group,” which won several national design awards, executed major architectural commissions across Canada and overseas.

Blankstein was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1974. 

Safdie and the City

“My main source of inspiration is to learn design in nature.”

World-renowned architect and urban planner Moshe Safdie delivered the second Morley Blankstein Visiting Lecture in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning. In his talk on “Megascale, Order, and Complexity,” Safdie discussed some of his major projects in different parts of the world and his design philosophy. He was born across the road from the old Technion “in a Bauhaus building with round balconies,” and told the rapt audience of students, faculty, and professional architects, “I’m always excited to lecture here, at the Technion, in my hometown of Haifa.”

“Haifa also taught me a lesson in urbanism that has remained with me. The combination of nature and construction, the interpenetration of both that I always aspire to in a nostalgic attempt to relive the experience of my childhood here,” he continued.

Safdie, whose early Habitat 67 project in Montreal and recent Mamilla Center project in Jerusalem are architectural landmarks, discussed how to mitigate mega scale, how to overcome the problem of density and still restore a sense of identity and scale. “I see it as my responsibility as an architect and teacher to reaffirm the ethical framework of architecture, that there is right or wrong, that there is relevant and irrelevant, that there is timeless and fleeting, that there is wholesome or capricious. Those are fundamental distinctions,” he said. “I believe that architecture must develop a language that the public can understand and a dialog the public can relate to, not a private professional language.”

“I’m often asked where I get my architectural inspiration from, and most questions are about which architects, which buildings, historical or modern? But I usually feel that my main source of inspiration is to learn design in nature,” he revealed.

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