Master of iconic architecture to design Montreal health care centre


Moshe Safdie returns to the city of his alma mater to draw the master plan for the McGill University Health Centre's Glen Campus

Dr. Arthur T. Porter, Director General and CEO of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), announced today that Moshe Safdie, a McGill University graduate and world-renowned architect, has accepted to design the master plan for the Glen Campus of the MUHC, a 43-acre former brownfield site destined to revitalize several neighbourhoods. Mr. Safdie will join a consortium of elite Quebec and U.S. architects in working on the $1.579-billion redevelopment project. The MUHC will be his first academic health care centre.

Three years after graduating from McGill, 24-year-old Moshe Safdie shone a spotlight on Montreal that was seen around the world when he took charge of the master plan for Expo '67 and created what is undeniably a 20th-century icon with Habitat '67. Since that initial project, the now veteran architect's work has spanned the globe and includes a rich array of public and academic institutions as well as major cultural and civic projects. His return home to Montreal represents a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and assure the city's appointment as a UNESCO City of Design.

"After only one conversation with Moshe Safdie, I realized this is a man who respects the people who will ultimately use the buildings he creates," stated Dr. Arthur T. Porter. "It's not about grandiose architecture or what's fashionable today. Mr. Safdie's soft-spoken manner and philosophy convinced me that the healing environment which will be created on the MUHC's Glen Campus will indeed shape the face of health care in the 21st century."

There are myriad challenges in designing a world-class academic health care campus, which is dedicated to integrated clinical care for children and adults as well as research and teaching. From a functional and technical design perspective, these challenges include creating distinct yet connected environments, ensuring user-friendliness for patients, families, visitors and personnel, and planning buildings that can evolve apace of ever-advancing medical practice and science. Success also hinges on how well the campus fits into its surroundings and how people interact with the space.

"Hospital environments have come to be synonymous with alienation, as they have grown larger, more confusing and an assemblage of patched-up additions. I am most excited about the challenge and opportunity presented by the MUHC to create a new model for health care architecture for the 21st century. I look forward to meeting the objectives articulated by David Culver and Arthur Porter, notably of creating a place of community, humanity and comfort for patients, their families and the dedicated health care professionals. Rarely has there been an opportunity to re-examine hospital architecture from first principles," noted Moshe Safdie.

The consortium charged with designing the two campuses for the MUHC comprises Les architectes Lemay et associés, Jodoin Lamarre Pratte et associés architectes, André Ibghy Architectes and Menkès Shooner Dagenais Letourneux. In addition to Moshe Safdie & Associates, Perkins+Will will contribute invaluable international expertise to the team, which has a combined total of more than one hundred years of experience in major projects.

"We have an incredibly dynamic group," stated Louis T. Lemay, Senior Architect and President, Les architectes Lemay et associés. "The energy that will drive this project is sure to guarantee world-class facilities that are on the vanguard of the best in health care design trends. We're all looking forward to the creative process."

Safdie's Canadian projects include Montreal's Habitat '67 and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (most recent pavilion), Quebec City's Musée de la civilisation, Ottawa's National Gallery of Canada, Toronto's Pearson International Airport (rebuild) and Vancouver's largest ever capital project, Library Square. His peers and the international community have recognized his extensive repertoire of projects. Recent building openings include the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah and the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem. The Khalsa Memorial Complex, the national museum of the Sikh people in Punjab, India, is currently under construction. He was recently commissioned to design a $3.4-billion integrated resort for the Venetian Sands in Singapore, to be complete in 2009.

The MUHC has registered the Redevelopment Project with the Canada Green Building Council and is seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification—a benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings—for both the Glen and Mountain campuses.

About the MUHC Redevelopment Project
Guided by its mission and its role as the nerve centre of the McGill integrated university hospital network, the MUHC is carrying out a $1.579-billion Redevelopment Project that will help the government achieve its vision for academic medicine in Quebec. Excellence in patient care, research, education and technology assessment will be fostered on two state-of-the-art campuses—the Mountain and the Glen—and through strong relationships with health care partners. Each LEED-registered campus will be designed to provide patients and their families with "The Best Care For Life" in a healing environment that is anchored in best sustainable development practices, including BOMA Go Green guidelines.

About the MUHC
The MUHC is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programmes, research, teaching and technology evaluation. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University: the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological hospitals, and the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

For more information, please contact:

Contact Information

Judith Horrell
MUHC Redevelopment Project
judith.horrell [at]
Office Phone: 
514-934-1934 ext. 71368