An award-winning architect, whose urban vision includes buildings constructed with a sense of place, will visit Portland on Wednesday to discuss how development and growth can be accommodated without sacrificing heritage and community.

Moshe Safdie will address a sold-out auditorium at the Portland Museum of Art at 6 p.m. Wednesday, although overflow seating will be available. His talk is presented by the Portland Society for Architecture. Safdie won the 2015 Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects, a top award in the field.

Safdie is a “starchitect” among his peers, said Portland architect Patrick Costin of Canal 5 Studio, incoming president of the PSA board. “He has celebrity status within the design community. When you look at the scope of the work he has done all over the world, he is in the top tier of practitioners in our profession.”

Born in Israel and raised in Canada, Safdie become known for designing prefabricated units for the 1967 Expo in Montreal. He has since designed buildings and public places across the globe, including many municipal buildings in Canada as well as the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. His work is defined by its curvature, geometric patterns and open spaces. The former director of the Urban Design program at Harvard University, Safdie has offices in Somerville, Massachusetts.

The Portland Society for Architecture invited him to Portland to talk about density and urban design. His talk is an extension of the “Challenge of Change: Are We Loving Portland to Death?” symposium last fall, Costin said. Wednesday’s talk is intended to encourage additional dialogue about Portland and its future.

Costin said he invited Safdie to Portland after reading the architect’s remarks during his AIA acceptance speech, in which he talked about the responsibility of architects to design buildings that respect place and heritage.

“I discovered the satisfaction of creating buildings which truly belong, which feel as if they had always been there, yet responding and resonating to the needs of today,” Safdie said in his AIA talk.

The topic is timely in Portland because of development pressure in the city, Costin said. The city’s quality of place is attracting people from all over the world. With growth comes controversy, which is expressed as tension between the old and the new.

“Now that growth is occurring here, there are people who are afraid that the growth that happens will not preserve and enhance all the things we all love about Portland, its scale, its quality of place,” Costin said. “I think it would be helpful if Moshe could talk about how he has both been interested in and concerned about this issue most of his career. Maybe he can give us his perspective on how Portland can grow and still be a wonderful, successful urban environment.”

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