Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Moshe Safdie

Habitat 67 – Montreal Canada (1967)

Moshe Safdie, Architect

Built by a then young architect in 1967 for the Montreal Expo.

I was in Montreal with a very small window of opportunity to sightsee, so only had a chance to observe it from a distance. My photos are not great, as they were taken from across the river, but I wanted to post them anyway. Hopefully I can get back and get up close. I am interested in prefab construction, and am glad to see that this early experiment is still up, occupied and appears to be desired complex to live in.

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Crystal Bridges Museum – Exterior (2011)

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Moshe Safdie, Architect

600 Museum Way, Bentonville AR 72712

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Visited April 27 & 28 2013

This museum is amazing in many ways. It is amazing that it is in a small town in northwest Arkansas. It is amazing that it is out in such a natural setting , spanning the river – twice, and amazing in it’s almost unbelievably difficult detailing. Moshe Safdie really put his heart into this elaborate design. This I do not find surprising. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Safdie while in Architecture School. He was one of the most interesting, modest and  quietly passionate architects I have met. You could just sense his confidence, quietly hidden in his modest demeaner.

This building was clearly a no expense spared building. The pavilions that span the river are complex cable structures, with wood arched beams, spaced with skylights between, and clad outside with copper is truly an amazing composition. The pavilions on the river banks have concave roofs, again with copper cladding. They are curved in plan and have walls with horizontal banding alternating between concrete and wood.  This is  actually a large collection of independent pavilions, and must have cost  more than most major city museums. You can walk the trails through the grounds of the museum, and there is a great overlook across the river  on the side of the hill where you can view the entire complex.

Don’t be deceived when you drive up from the main entrance. all you can see at the main entry is a modern colonnade. The rest of the building is 4 floors below in the river valley. Walking up to the entry, you see the rest of the complex sprawling beneath you. It is a great progression to the elevator, and then you take the elevator down to the ground level and start your walk through the galleries.

I highly recommend it for both the architecture and the collection. Check out my “Interiors” post for more details.

The Museum’s Website

The Architect’s Website

Dine in the Museum: Eleven at Crystal Bridges

Stay Nearby: 21c Museum Hotel – Bentonville

Dine Nearby: The Hive – Bentonville


Crystal Bridges Museum – Interior (2011)

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Moshe Safdie, Architect

600 Museum Way, Bentonville AR 72712

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Visited April 27 & 28 2013

The museum has an comprehensive collection of American Art arranged in a series of galleries by style. There are masterpieces and lesser known works of high quality spanning colonial times to today. These words are not meant to be “promotional” ( my blog is strictly an architect’s personal travel diary of sorts – I have not received any compensation for any of my posts).  The truth is I was surprised – if not somewhat shocked- at the Museum and it’s first class collection.

This museum is in northwest Arkansas, in the small town of Bentonville, within walking distance of the very Norman Rockwell like town square. The American artwork and the building that houses it was collected and funded by Alice Walton, the widow of the founder of Walmart. The museum’s brochure states ” it is one of the premier destination museums in the nation”, after my 2 day visit to the museum, I heartily agree.

Among those represented are Charles Wilson Peale, John Singer Sargent, Asher Durand, James McNeill Whistler, Thomas Hart Benton, Edward Hopper, Maxfield Parrish, Winslow Homer, Charles Sheeler, Mary Cassatt, Josef Albers, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, The collection includes portraits as diverse as Gilbert Stewart’s George Washington, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, Warhol’s Dolly Parton ( see photos).

In Bentonville, Arkansas.

Check out my photos of the exterior

The Museum’s Website