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Inside the Bizarre Personal Lives of Famous Architects

09:30 - 29 May, 2017
Inside the Bizarre Personal Lives of Famous Architects, From left: © Robert C. Lautman; <a href='http://https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alvar_Aalto1.jpg'>via Wikimedia</a> (public domain); Photograph by Al Ravenna <a href='http://https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frank_Lloyd_Wright_portrait.jpg'>via Wikimedia</a> (public domain)
From left: © Robert C. Lautman; via Wikimedia (public domain); Photograph by Al Ravenna via Wikimedia (public domain)

Famous architects are often seen as more enigma than person, but behind even the biggest names hide the scandals and tragedies of everyday life. As celebrities of a sort, many of the world's most famed architects have faced rumors and to this day there are questions about the truth of their private affairs. Clients and others in their studios would get a glimpse into an architect’s personal life, but sometimes the sheer force of personality that often comes with creative genius would prevent much insight. The fact remains, however, that these architects’ lives were more than the sum of their buildings.

Louis Kahn and Renzo Piano: The Harmony Between Each Legend’s Kimbell Museum Wing

09:30 - 6 May, 2017

Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum is a masterclass in natural lighting, with thin-shelled concrete vaults that feature subtle openings to reflect light into the galleries below. While Kahn’s wing of the Fort Worth Museum opened in 1972, in 2013 a second Renzo Piano-designed pavilion was added to the complex. Piano was selected to design the addition because he had worked for Kahn as a budding architect, and the homage to his former mentor is evident in the building’s similar layout and use of translucent glass panels. In this video, architect-photographer Songkai Liu takes viewers on a serene stroll through the museum’s campus. Time-lapses and pans of Kahn’s concrete are juxtaposed with the clean details of Piano’s glass in a soothing exploration of the two complementary projects.

Fighting the Neoliberal: What Today's Architects Can Learn From the Brutalists

09:30 - 10 March, 2017
Fighting the Neoliberal: What Today's Architects Can Learn From the Brutalists, <a href='http://www.archdaily.com/790453/ad-classics-barbican-estate-london-chamberlin-powell-bon'>The Barbican</a> in London. Image © Joas Souza
The Barbican in London. Image © Joas Souza

In this second installment of his revamped “Beyond London” column for ArchDaily, Simon Henley of London-based practice Henley Halebrown discusses a potential influence that might help UK architects combat the economic hegemony currently afflicting the country – turning for moral guidance to the Brutalists of the 1960s.

Before Christmas, I finished writing my book entitled Redefining Brutalism. As the title suggests I am seeking to redefine the subject, to detoxify the term and to find relevance in the work, not just a cause for nostalgia. Concrete Brutalism is, to most people, a style that you either love or hate. But Brutalism is far more than just a style; it is way of thinking and making. The historian and critic Reyner Banham argued in his 1955 essay and 1966 book both entitled The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic that the New Brutalism began as an ethical movement only to be hijacked by style. Today, it is a mirror to be held up to the architecture of Neoliberalism, to an architecture that serves capitalism. More than ever, architecture relies on the brand association of the big name architects whose work has little to do with the challenges faced by society, which are today not unlike the ones faced by the post-war generation: to build homes, places in which to learn and work, places for those who are old and infirm, and places to gather. We can learn a lot from this bygone generation.

Dunelm House student union building in Durham, by the Architect's Co-Partnership. Image © <a href='http://www.geograph.org.uk/more.php?id=2935919'>Geograph user Des Blenkinsopp</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a> <a href='http://www.archdaily.com/791939/ad-classics-park-hill-estate-sheffield-jack-lynn-ivor-smith'>Park Hill</a> in Sheffield: left, in its original design; right, a section of the renovation. Image © Paul Dobraszczyk "Streets in the sky" at Robin Hood Gardens by Alison and Peter Smithson. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecadman/3058342144/'>Flickr user stevecadman</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a> St Peter's Seminary in Cardross, Scotland, by Gillespie Kidd and Coia, here shown in its original state. Image Courtesy of GKC Archive +10

Louis Kahn's Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad Photographed by Laurian Ghinitoiu

14:00 - 20 February, 2017
Louis Kahn's Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad Photographed by Laurian Ghinitoiu, © Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu

In celebration of the life of Louis Kahn, who would have celebrated his birthday on this day, photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has visited the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad – one of the architect's seminal projects, which was only completed after his death in 1974.

© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu +46

Spotlight: Louis Kahn

08:00 - 20 February, 2017
Spotlight: Louis Kahn, Salk Institute. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/dreamsjung/3021667238/'>Flickr user dreamsjung</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>
Salk Institute. Image © Flickr user dreamsjung licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Louis Kahn (February 20th 1901 – March 17th 1974) was one of the United States' greatest 20th century architects, known for combining Modernism with the weight and dignity of ancient monuments. Though he did not arrive at his distinctive style until his early 50s, and despite his death at the age of just 73, in a span of just two decades Kahn came to be considered by many as part of the pantheon of modernist architects which included Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe.

The Strange Habits of Top Architects

07:00 - 10 October, 2016

Well-known architects are easy to admire or dismiss from afar, but up close, oddly humanizing habits often come to light. However, while we all have our quirks, most people's humanizing habits don't give an insight into how they became one of the most notable figures in their field of work. The following habits of several top architects reveal parts of their creative process, how they relax, or simply parts of their identity. Some are inspiring and some are surprising, but all give a small insight into the mental qualities that are required to be reach the peak of the architectural profession—from an exceptional work drive to an embrace of eccentricity (and a few more interesting qualities besides).

10 Of The World's Most Spectacular Sacred Spaces

04:00 - 31 August, 2016
10 Of The World's Most Spectacular Sacred Spaces, Courtesy of Flickr user Flemming Ibsen under CC BY-NC 2.0
Courtesy of Flickr user Flemming Ibsen under CC BY-NC 2.0

Religion, in one form or another, has formed the core of human society for much of our history. It therefore stands to reason that religious architecture has found equal prominence in towns and cities across the globe. Faith carries different meanings for different peoples and cultures, resulting in a wide variety of approaches to the structures in which worship takes place: some favor sanctuaries, others places of education and community, while others place the greatest emphasis on nature itself. Indeed, many carry secondary importance as symbols of national power or cultural expression.

AD Classics are ArchDaily's continually updated collection of longer-form building studies of the world's most significant architectural projects. The collection of sacred spaces collated here invariably reveal one desire that remains constant across all faiths and cultures: shifting one’s gaze from the mundane and everyday and fixing it on the spiritual, the otherworldly, and the eternal.

Courtesy of Flickr user Arian Zweger under CC BY 2.0 Courtesy of Flickr user Futo-Tussauds under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 © Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia Courtesy of Flickr user Naoya Fujii under CC BY-NC 2.0 +10

Studying the "Manual of Section": Architecture's Most Intriguing Drawing

08:30 - 18 August, 2016
Studying the "Manual of Section": Architecture's Most Intriguing Drawing, Phillips Exeter Academy Library by Louis I. Kahn (1972). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects
Phillips Exeter Academy Library by Louis I. Kahn (1972). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects

For Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki and David J. Lewis, the section “is often understood as a reductive drawing type, produced at the end of the design process to depict structural and material conditions in service of the construction contract.” A definition that will be familiar to most of those who have studied or worked in architecture at some point. We often think primarily of the plan, for it allows us to embrace the programmatic expectations of a project and provide a summary of the various functions required. In the modern age, digital modelling software programs offer ever more possibilities when it comes to creating complex three dimensional objects, making the section even more of an afterthought.

With their Manual of Section, the three founding partners of LTL architects engage with section as an essential tool of architectural design, and let’s admit it, this reading might change your mind on the topic. For the co-authors, “thinking and designing through section requires the building of a discourse about section, recognizing it as a site of intervention.” Perhaps, indeed, we need to understand the capabilities of section drawings both to use them more efficiently and to enjoy doing so.

Bagsværd Church by Jørn Utzon (1976). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects Notre Dame du Haut by Le Corbusier (1954). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects United States Pavilion at Expo '67 by Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao (1967). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright (1959). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects +15

AD Classics: Palazzo dei Congressi / Louis Kahn

14:00 - 11 June, 2016
AD Classics: Palazzo dei Congressi / Louis Kahn, Model of the unrealised Palazzo dei Congressi, Venice. Image © Unidentified Source
Model of the unrealised Palazzo dei Congressi, Venice. Image © Unidentified Source

The city of Venice has been caught in a tug of war between progress and traditionalism for many years, and particularly since the construction of a railroad viaduct in 1846 linked the island city to the Italian mainland for the first time in its history.[1] Over a century later, the Venetian government commissioned Louis Kahn to design a new Palazzo dei Congressi for the city; his proposal, while paying respect to the histories of both the Republic of Venice and a unified Italy, could not escape similar controversy.

Model. Image © Unidentified Source This rough site plan for the building (1968-1974) is currently on the FBI's National Stolen Art File. Image via FBI Concept sketches. Image © Unidentified Source Plan of the Congress Hall +8

Louis Kahn's Yale Center for British Art Reopens After Restoration

16:20 - 16 May, 2016
Louis Kahn's Yale Center for British Art Reopens After Restoration, Yale Center for British Art, Library Court following reinstallation. Image © Richard Caspole
Yale Center for British Art, Library Court following reinstallation. Image © Richard Caspole

Louis Kahn’s Yale Center for British Art has reopened to the public after a multi-year restoration project led by Knight Architecture, LLC. The building, which began construction in 1969 and was completed after Kahn’s death in 1977, was designed to house Paul Mellon’s gift of British art to Yale University. According to the museum, “this was the most complex building conservation work undertaken at the Center to date, comprising the entire structure, from roof to basement. It renews the Center’s public galleries, internal systems, spaces, and amenities, and has provided an opportunity to reimagine and reinstall the Center’s renowned collections of more than five centuries of British art—the largest outside of the United Kingdom.”

Yale Center for British Art, fourth  oor, Turner Bay following rein- stallation. Image © Richard Caspole Yale Center for British Art, fourth  oor, Long Gallery following reinstallation. Image © Michael Marsland Yale Center for British Art, Library Court following reinstallation. Image © Richard Caspole Yale Center for British Art, exterior view (spring). Image © Richard Caspole +20

Louis Kahn's Roosevelt Island Memorial in the Firing Line Over Accessibility Dispute

16:00 - 15 May, 2016
Louis Kahn's Roosevelt Island Memorial in the Firing Line Over Accessibility Dispute, Courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC
Courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC

Throughout the four years since the opening of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, New York City Hall has been arguing with the nonprofit group, the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, over whether the park is adequately accessible to disabled people, reports The New York Times.

The park was designed from 1972 to 1974—before the advent of the American With Disabilities Act of 1990—by architect Louis Kahn, who died in Pennsylvania Station carrying the plans for the finished memorial. At its southernmost end the park features a 12-by-60-foot sunken terrace that, ironically, President Roosevelt himself would not have been able to use with his wheelchair.

Louis Kahn's Notorious Richards Laboratory Restored

16:00 - 12 January, 2016
Louis Kahn's Notorious Richards Laboratory Restored, Richards Medical Research Laboratories in 2010, prior to restoration. Image © Wikipedia CC user Smallbones
Richards Medical Research Laboratories in 2010, prior to restoration. Image © Wikipedia CC user Smallbones

Louis Kahn's Richards Medical Research Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, once deemed "the most consequential building constructed in the United States" since World War II by MoMA, has been notoriously hated by its users; scientists claim the building lacks privacy, has too much exposure to sunlight and is not suitable for lab experiments. Thus, the University's architect has just completed a full renovation of Richards' four brick towers, converting them into offices and computer labs for researchers, while, as Philly.com reports, restoring the structure to its original essence.

"The renovation has pared Kahn's spaces down to their essence, restoring a Zenlike calm, and revealing the muscular concrete structure that made the design such a revelation in the early 1960s, when International Style glass towers were all the rage," says Philly.com. Read the complete article here

The Tranquility of Louis Kahn's Salk Institute

16:00 - 8 September, 2015

Watching the sunrise over Louis Kahn's Salk Institute for Biological Sciences is arguably one of architecture's most transformative experiences. The famous building has become an emblem of tranquility in architecture thanks to its tremendous location in San Diego, California, a quality enhanced by the carefully planned symmetrical vistas overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Built in 1962 and declared a national historic landmark in 1991, Kahn designed the complex to express an underlying sense of spiritualism, fusing influences from both the International Style and Brutalism anchored by a gently flowing river through the center of the design. Filmmaker-photographer Chang Kim explored the Salk Institute as a part of his series on influential Californian architecture, providing an opportunity to virtually experience the iconic institute.

AD Round Up: American Classics

11:00 - 4 July, 2015

Happy Fourth of July! In recognition of Independence Day in the United States, ArchDaily has assembled six of our favorite "American Classics." Featuring projects by Louis Kahn, Mies van der Rohe, Richard Neutra, Paul Rudolph, Eero Saarinen, and Richard Meier, each of these canonical works occupies a prominent place in twentieth-century American architecture. See them all after the break.

A+U 538: Kimbell Art Museum – Drawing Collection

19:00 - 15 June, 2015
A+U 538: Kimbell Art Museum – Drawing Collection

From the publisher. July 2015 issue of a+u is a special issue focused on the collection of drawings of Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kimbell Art Museum, completed in 1972, is one of Louis I. Kahn's later works. The issue features a set of construction drawings from the collection of Preston M. Geren's office who was the associate architect of the project.

The issue is composed of the drawings, photographs taken by our own photographers, two essays and an interview with two architects from Geren's office who worked on the project.

Seeming Inevitability: Reconsidering Renzo Piano’s Addition To Louis Kahn’s Kimbell

08:30 - 25 May, 2015
South view. Image © Robert LaPrelle
South view. Image © Robert LaPrelle

When Renzo Piano’s addition to the Kimbell opened in late 2013, critical responses ranged from “both architects at the top of their games” (Witold Rybczynski) to “generous to a fault” (Mark Lamster) to “distant defacement” (Thomas de Monchaux). In this excerpt from a special issue of Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston, Ronnie Self gives a deeply considered assessment of the two buildings after a full turn of the seasons. The special issue also includes a review by Christopher Hawthorne of Johnston Marklee's plans for the Menil Drawing Institute, a review by David Heymann of Steven Holl’s expansion of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and an essay by Walter Hood and Carmen Taylor about Project Row Houses. Also featured are interviews of the directors of all four museums and their architects (Piano, Holl, Johnston Marklee, David Chipperfield, and Rice Building Workshop), making for a very comprehensive issue.

Piano’s main task was to respond appropriately to Kahn’s building which he achieved through alignments in plan and elevation and by dividing his project into two major bodies: a concrete walled, glass roofed pavilion facing Kahn and a separate, sod-roofed structure behind that should integrate a significant portion of the project with the landscape and thereby lessen its overall impact. Still, the loss of the open lawn that existed in front of the Kimbell where Piano’s building now stands is regrettable. Kahn’s Kimbell was conceived as a large house or a villa in a park, and unlike much of the abundant open and green space in the Fort Worth Cultural District, that park was actually used. Piano’s new outdoor space is more like a courtyard – more contained and more formal. It is more urban in its design, yet less public in its use.

Aside from lamenting the loss of the open lawn, how might we judge the addition?

View of the double staircase leading to the lower level. Image © Robert Polidori View from the southwest. Image © Robert LaPrelle Lobby view, looking south. Image © Nic Lehoux Detail of roof and beam system. Image © Robert LaPrelle +33

In Conversation With Sheila O'Donnell And John Tuomey, 2015 Royal Gold Medallists

01:00 - 6 February, 2015
In Conversation With Sheila O'Donnell And John Tuomey, 2015 Royal Gold Medallists, John Tuomey and Sheila O'Donnell - recipients of the 2015 Royal Gold Medal. Image Courtesy of RIBA
John Tuomey and Sheila O'Donnell - recipients of the 2015 Royal Gold Medal. Image Courtesy of RIBA

When Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey, who practice in partnership as O'Donnell + Tuomey, were named as this year's recipients of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, a palpable collective satisfaction appeared to spread throughout the profession. No one could find criticism in Joseph Rykwert and Níall McLaughlin's nomination, nor the ultimate choice of the RIBA Honours Committee, to bestow the award upon the Irish team. Their astonishingly rigourous body of work, compiled and constructed over the last twenty five years, has an appeal which extends beyond Irish and British shores. A robust stock of cultural, community and educational projects, alongside family homes and social housing projects, leaves little doubt about the quality, depth and breadth of their mutual capabilities and the skill of those that they choose to collaborate with.

Read the conversation with the Gold Medallists after the break.

Ground sketch, Venice Biennale 2012 (Common Ground). Image © O'Donnell + Tuomey Sketch, Glucksman Gallery (Cork, Ireland). Image © O'Donnell + Tuomey Watercolour sketch, Ireland. Image © O'Donnell + Tuomey Sketch Plan of the Saw Swee Hock Centre (London). Image © O'Donnell + Tuomey +21

AD Round Up: Classics in Brick

11:00 - 30 January, 2015
AD Round Up: Classics in Brick, Colònia Güell / Antoni Gaudí. Image © Samuel Ludwig
Colònia Güell / Antoni Gaudí. Image © Samuel Ludwig

As one of the most ubiquitous forms of construction, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the humble brick. However, this prosaic building method can also be one of the most versatile materials available to architects, thanks to the experimentation of countless architects who, for centuries, have worked to create new forms of expression with the simple material. In this round up, we celebrate architects who, with their architectural classics, have expanded the possibilities of brick craft: Antoni Gaudí's fantastical vaulting at Colònia Güell and Alvar Aalto's experimental brick patterning at his house in Muuratsalo; the powerful brick piers of Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo's Knights of Columbus Building and the Catalan vaults of Porro, Garatti and Gattardi's National Arts School of Cuba; and finally, what brick round up would be complete without the brick-whisperer himself - Louis Kahn and his all-brick fortress for the Indian Institute of Management.

Muuratsalo Experimental House / Alvar Aalto. Image © Nico Saieh Knights of Columbus Building / Kevin Roche & John Dinkeloo. Image © Flickr: username- sftrajan The National Art Schools of Cuba / Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garatti, Roberto Gottardi. Image © Norma Barbacci/World Monuments Fund Indian Institute of Management / Louis Kahn. Image © Wikimedia Commons +7