President’s Greeting: Sep/Oct 2013

Main Lobby_Skirball_

Skirball Main Lobby. Photo by Timothy Hursley.

Upon entering the Skirball’s main lobby, visitors step into a light-filled greeting area. Its skylights afford views of the expansive sky. The architecture of this entryway is reminiscent of ancient sukkot (plural of sukkah), the temporary booths inhabited by our ancestors on their journey to the Promised Land. The holiday of Sukkot—the Jewish harvest and thanksgiving festival that takes place during this time of year— reminds us that those who came before us lived in the most simple of dwellings where the spirit of welcome was ever-present. Across our campus are many such warm and hospitable gathering spaces.

This fall, we pay tribute to our architect, Moshe Safdie, whose design for the Skirball gave form to our mission to engage and embrace all who visit. The first exhibition to be mounted in all of our changing galleries, Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie is an insightful retrospective spanning more than four decades of Moshe’s distinguished career.

Moshe Safdie and I surveying the Skirball site from the construction trailer.

Moshe Safdie and I surveying the Skirball site from a trailer during the early years of construction.

Upon first meeting Moshe in the mid-1970s, I was immediately impressed by his contextual approach to design. He and I soon became, and have remained, close friends and colleagues. We have formed a bond of trust and caring that has strengthened and deepened with time.

As his first U.S. project, the Skirball is privileged to have been part of Moshe’s extraordinary journey for more than thirty years. We admire firsthand the principles and values that guide his work, and we are inspired by his genius and gentle sensibility. Most importantly, we are honored that our millions of visitors have experienced our architecture—a superbly realized complex of buildings, courtyards, and gardens—as the “oasis in the city” that we long aspired to create in partnership with Moshe Safdie and his team.

During this holiday season, I invite one and all to convene and commune at the Skirball, a place of meeting like no other in Los Angeles and beyond.

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