Program Abstract

Following twelve years of teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Design,
Moshe Safdie has formed, within his Boston office, a Research Fellowship
program to conduct advanced investigations of particular design topics.  This
practice oriented Fellowship has been developed under the premise that
research into and development of speculative proposals, outside normal
practice constraints, are crucial in developing unique and fresh solutions to the
commissioned works of the office.  As the office has always been engaged
informally in project related research efforts the Fellowship program was seen
as a means to formalize and extend these types of efforts into a more structured
format. By including the Fellowship within the office, it dissolves the line
between academia and practice.  Within this context, the Fellows, along with
the office staff, enjoy a unique opportunity to engage in explorations not
typically available within the university or normal day-to-day practice.

Each year, Moshe Safdie targets a general theme that will occupy the
concerns of the Fellows.  The Fellows then work with Mr. Safdie to develop a
specific research plan based on their combined interests.

Year One: Tall Buildings in the City

The office has always been active in developing and investigating new
typologies for high-rise buildings.  The Habitat I and II residential projects for
New York City (1967-1968) adapted the amenities of Habitat ’67 to the
major density constraints of Manhattan.  The project for Columbus Center, on
the south-west corner of Central Park (1985-1987), explored the potential for a
mixed-use tower, incorporating residential, hotel and office set above a
commercial base, to address the same concerns as the Habitat projects.  In the
month following the attacks on the World Trade Center, Moshe Safdie
published an essay in the journal ‘The New Republic’ where he outlined
his thoughts for a new type of urban complex, where there were not one or two
towers, “but probably four or five.  They should not be 100 + stories, … but
instead be a cluster of towers that measure 50 to 60 stories, [containing a vast
array of programs] that should not be isolated from each other, but should be
connected at several levels.â€�  Moshe felt strongly that this was an extremely
important, pressing issue that needed a vigorous analytical effort to understand
the logics and implications of such a complex.  This essay eventually became
the ‘pre-text’ for the first year of the Fellowship program, whose charge
became to understand, from first principles, this urban typology.  A major
difference between this research effort, and past efforts concerned with an
investigation into the typology of the tall building, is that this effort is an
investigation of multiple tall buildings in the city.

The Research Fellows selected to investigate the theme of ‘tall buildings in
the city’ are Mitchell Joachim and Andrew Watkins.  The research program
was organized into a series of stages where the Fellows would constantly be
shifting back and forth between extensive research and exploratory design

The office has developed a strong relationship with some of the discipline’s
leading engineers who have agreed to collaborate intensely with the
Fellowship program.  During this first year, the New York office of Ove Arup and
Parnters have been participating in weekly discussions with the Fellows
regarding their investigations, and the renowned structural engineer, William
LeMessurier, has been involved in a series of design reviews.

Periodically the Fellows present their work to the office, and regularly compile
their efforts into small chapter size ‘research and design pamphlets’ for
distribution and review.  At the close of their appointment, the fellows will have
the opportunity to prepare their work for publication and exhibition.  The
program is currently in the process of applying for a few multi-year grants, most
notably from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, to
support the compilation and publication of the material produced by the
Research Fellows on a yearly basis.

Project Credits: Mitchell Joachim, Andrew Watkins with
Moshe Safdie & Christopher Mulvey
Tall Building Cluster, Con Edison East River Site in NYC.
30th Lvl. Bridge Wind Turbine and
Structural Brace Detail.
Upper Units of Building Cluster w/ 60th Lvl. Bridge
MoMA: Tall Buildings:
Exhibition Site
  Connected Urban Clusters