Drawing with LightPublished on November 8, 2010

  • National Gallery of Canada. (Provided)

  • National Gallery of Canada courtyard. (Provided)

  • National Gallery of Canada entranceway. (Provided)

  • National Gallery of Canada interior geometry. (Provided)

Moshe Safdie is a visionary. For over 40 years, he has been delivering architectural marvels the world over and, here in Ottawa, we are incredibly fortunate to have not one, but two of his iconic creations to enjoy.


One of Safdie's most recognizable works, dominating the architectural landscape of the city, is the glorious National Gallery of Canada, which first opened to the public in 1988.

As with much of his work, the Gallery responds beautifully to its surroundings, seamlessly blending interior and exterior environments and subtly echoing the form of Ottawa's Parliamentary Library in the geometry of the "Great Hall" 

The Gallery is a perfect example of the architect's command of light, space and form, and his talent for creating a work which surpasses the purely functional. Famed for its almost open-air feel, the Gallery is steeped in an atmosphere of serenity and reflection.

Another perhaps less recognized work is Safdie's extension to Ottawa's "Old City Hall", itself only a short walk along Sussex Drive from the NGC.

Commissioned in 1988 and opening in 1994, the site showcases Safdie's signature style; the masterful control of light and an incredible purity of form. The view of the building in the early evening, rising from the waters of the Rideau River, is not to be missed!

As an interesting side-note, the original design called for a pair of 18-story observation towers to the East of the building. While these were cut from the final construction, their ghost remains in the form of a white steel scaffold structure.

While Safdie's creations are the purest of vision, writ large, there are lessons we can learn to use in our own homes.

We learn to consider light as a fundamental element of our spaces, rather than an afterthought once decor has been planned, and we learn about the use of space and form as decorative elements, where "less is more" and open sight lines create a relaxed environment, inviting us into the home. 

If you want to learn more about Moshe Safdie and his work, visit "Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie" running, appropriately, at the NGC until January 9th.

Thanks for reading and speak soon!




Graham is the owner of Blueberry Interiors, a new interior decor consultancy, specializing in modern and contemporary design themes. You can keep up with him here at Ottawa at Home, on Twitter by following @grahamcowen, or you can reach him directly at graham@blueberryinteriors.ca


Sign up for our Newsletter
Subscribe to theMagazine

Subscribe to Ottawa at Home for only $25.00 + hst per year. Click to Subscribe.