Column, Living the Dream

Livin’ the Dream: Safdie and the Killington Village: we’re in good hands

My mom had left me a cardboard box filled with papers and what looked to be just a bunch of junk mail. So I left it in my car trunk for a few weeks, procrastinating in the hope that this box would just somehow vanish instead of being forced to acknowledge its own existence. But as all things, it eventually made its way back into my life and this week, I finally started to sort through the items.

I literally laughed out loud at the first one and it has kind of sent me into a spiral. Or, more aptly, a rabbit hole. The box was filled with random mementos from elementary school through college. A playbill from a sixth grade play, a letter from my Killington Mountain School U12 coaches, report cards from elementary school through college. Random pieces of my life stuffed into a boot-sized box.

But the first thing I picked up was a report card from my senior year in high school. I was privileged to have architecture and design classes offered and I took every single one. This report card was from my senior year tutorial class in which I spent an entire semester designing a cultural museum for a site in Quebec City. I had been presented with the actual site, design requirements, and building program for the Musée de la Civilisation as designed by the well known architect Moshe Safdie.

I literally laughed out loud and had to call my mom immediately. I don’t know if I picked this project or Mr. Moorhead assigned it to me, but I love that I had the audacity to redesign one of Moshe Safdie’s designs. Ahhh, to be 18 years old again. And, to my utter disappointment, my design studies and floor plans have probably been lost to the annals of history. Wouldn’t that have been fun to go through again?

So, of course, the rabbit hole.

If you are not aware, Moshe Safdie is the architectural firm hired by the developer, Great Gulf, to design the resort village project in Killington. That means Moshe Safdie is coming here! To Killington. And honestly, I don’t think that enough energy has been focused on just who this great man is and his design philosophy.

Because he is amazing. His first project, Habitat 67 for the Montreal Expo, changed the way we think about community and nature. The project redefined the idea of living spaces, bringing nature into the harsh reality of urban life. With pedestrian streets and suspended terraces,aerial speaks and skylights galore, the project fit into the urban landscape on the exterior but inside you feel like you have walked into another world filled with light and nature.

As we all come to the new resort village and we are worried about so many features, especially parking and access, there is one thing that I am not worried about. And that is the architect. Safdie wants “my buildings to take root and look as if they’ve always been there. It isn’t about pastiche or adapting what’s already there. It’s about trying to blend the future and the past.”

He understands the timelessness of buildings, the importance of creating community and shaping the public realm, responding to the essence of a plan and working with nature and its resources.

His projects seem to bring the outside in, making the buildings feel like they have always been there. He understands his responsibility to a culture and how his projects will impact the lives that surround it. Rather than feel like an intrusion of a building on nature, he believes that a building should be seen as a continuation of it. If you read his words, if you study Safdie’s art, you will see that he tries to blend the past with the future, nature with structure and order, and the earth with the heavens.

Of the Killington project itself, Safdie said that his “goal is to capture the spirit of and character of a Vermont village in a contemporary rendition of vital public spaces for all seasons.”

While it’s difficult to infer his intentions from one quote, we can look back on a lifetime of stunning architecture that seeks to understand the communities he designs for.

In 2019, Moshe Safdie received the Wolf Prize, given to scientists and artists for their achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples. Safdie’s citation reads: “For a career motivated by the social concerns of architecture and formal experimentation.”

The more I study Safdie as an adult, the more I see how his view of the world fits in perfectly with Vermont. He builds habitats for all living things and I am truly honored that he is willing to design for our little town.

While I continue to hope that he gets it right, I believe we have the absolute best architect we could have. Moshe Safdie.

Designing a project in my small town. Who would ever have thought that possible?

Merisa Sherman is a long time Killington resident, KMS coach, serves on the Development Review Board and is on the March ballot for Town Lister. She can be reached at

Courtesy photo
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, by architect Moshe Safdie is one of author Merisa Sherman’s favorite designs as the building is integrated into the land.


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