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The Tranquility of Louis Kahn's Salk Institute

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

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

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

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

Spotlight: Louis Kahn

Louis Kahn, (February 20th 1901 - March 17th 1974) was born Itze-Leib Schmuilowsky in Pärnu, in what is now Estonia. His family emigrated to Philadelphia when he was just a child, where Kahn would remain for the rest of his life, completing many of his later works there. Though he did not arrive at his distinctive style until his early 50s, and despite his death at the age of just 73, Kahn became known for combining Modernism with the weight and dignity of ancient monuments, and in a span of just two decades came to be considered by many as part of the pantheon of modernist architects which included Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe.

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

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

AD Round Up: Classics in Brick

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

New Republic Honors Great Thinker Louis Kahn

New Republic has presented a list of 100 great thinkers from the past 100 years. The list, as the magazine puts it, honors “people we believe have made the greatest intellectual contributions to the fields and causes that this magazine holds dear.” One of these fields is architecture, and New Republic’s honoree for that category is the illustrious Louis Kahn. Kahn is famous for projects such as the Kimbell Museum and the Salk Institute. His work displays what architecture critic Sarah Williams Goldhagen describes as a “cognitively rich, metaphorically complex, multi-sensorial approach.” Curious to see who else made the list? See the full roster here!

Getty Conservation Institute to Help Conserve Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute

The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) is partnering with the Salk Institute to help develop techniques for conserving one of Louis Kahn’s finest works. Overlooking the Pacific coast in La Jolla, California, Kahn took advantage of the peaceful surroundings and natural light when he designed the Salk Institute site. However, these same marine elements also provide unique conservation challenges for the concrete and wood structure, particularly for its teak window walls, the Getty Trust reports.

Part of the GCI’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative, the project will determine the condition of the teak and develop recommendations for its treatment and long-term conservation. “Partnering with the Salk Institute on this conservation challenge will assist in developing new approaches for practitioners in conserving other icons of modern architecture, which makes it a terrific project for us,” said Susan Macdonald, Head of Field Projects at the GCI. 

 Read on after the break to learn more about the conservation initiative. 

Four Freedoms Park: Louis Kahn's "Ancient Temple Precinct" in NYC

Built four decades after Louis Kahn's death, New York City's Four Freedoms Park - the architect's posthumous memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt and his policies - is becoming one of the architect's most popular urban spaces. In a recent article for the GuardianOliver Wainwright investigates what he describes as perhaps Kahn's "best project". Wainwright's spatial description of the monument is interweaved by fragments of Kahn's personal history, building up a picture of a space with "the feel of an ancient temple precinct" and "a finely nuanced landscape". Although Gina Pollara, who ultimately realised the plans in 2005, argues that Four Freedoms Park "stands as a memorial not only to FDR and the New Deal, but to Kahn himself", can a posthumous project ever be considered as an architect's best? Read the article in full here.

Arthur Andersson on Timeless Materials & Building "Ruins"

Tower House . Image © Art Gray
Tower House . Image © Art Gray

Material Minds, presented by ArchDaily Materials, is our new series of short interviews with architects, designers, scientists, and others who use architectural  in innovative ways. Enjoy!

Arthur Andersson of Andersson-Wise Architects wants to build ruins. He wants things to be timeless - to look good now and 2000 years from now. He wants buildings to fit within a place and time. To do that he has a various set of philosophies, processes and some great influences. Read our full in-depth interview with Mr. Andersson, another revolutionary "Material Mind," after the break. 

Tower House . Image © Art Gray Tower House . Image © Art Gray Tower House . Image © Art Gray Stone Creek Camp. Image © Art Gray

VIDEO: Kengo Kuma on Architecture, Materials And Music

In Kengo Kuma’s work you may see influences of light, transparency and materiality. But when visiting the Woodbury School of Architecture in San Diego, Kengo Kuma shared a few of his not so apparent influences, from Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn to jazz music. Make sure to view “Knowing Kuma” to see the architect’s definition of architecture, materials and more.

9 Architects Reflect on the Homes That Most Inspired Them

The homes that inspire architects.
The homes that inspire architects.

Where do you receive inspiration? Nalina Moses asked the question to nine contemporary residential architects, asking each to choose one residence that had left an impression on them. The following answers were first published on the AIA’s website in the article “Homing Instinct."

When nine accomplished residential architects were asked to pick a house—any house—that has left the greatest impression on them as designers, most of their choices ran succinctly along the canon of American or European Modern architecture. Two—Alvar Aalto’s Villa Mairea and Pierre Chareau’s La Maison de Verre—were even tapped twice. 

If the houses these designers chose weren’t surprising, the reasons they chose them were. Rather than groundbreaking style or technologies, what they cited were the moments of comfort, excitement, and refinement they offered: the restful proportions of a bedroom, the feel of a crafted wood handrail, an ocean view unfolding beyond an outdoor stair.

Exhibition: Louis Kahn / The Power of Architecture

The American architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974) is regarded as one of the great master builders of the Twentieth Century. Kahn created buildings of monumental beauty with powerful universal symbolism.

Material Inspiration: 10 Projects Inspired by Concrete

To celebrate the launch of ArchDaily Materials, our new product catalog, we've rounded up 10 awesome projects from around the world that were inspired by one material: concrete. Check out the projects after the break...

Piano Takes on Kahn at Kimbell Museum Expansion

For architects, Louis Kahn's Kimbell Museum has long been hallowed ground. For Renzo Piano, who designed the museum's first major expansion, it was also an enormous difficulty to overcome. His addition to the museum could be neither too close to Kahn's building, nor too far. It had to solve a parking problem, yet respect Kahn's distaste for cars. It had to respond to Kahn's stately progression of spaces—and that silvery natural light that make architects' knees go wobbly. And yet it could not merely borrow from Kahn's revolutionary bag of tricks. 

Giveaway: The Houses of Louis Kahn

UPDATE: Congrats to Lukas Binder of Austria, the winner of The Houses of Louis Kahn giveaway! Thank you to all those who participated. Keep your eyes peeled for two more fantastic giveaways in the coming weeks. 

Our friends at Yale University Press have offered to give one of our readers a newly released copy of The Houses of Louis Kahn by William Whitaker and George Marcus.

Deemed by American Art and Architecture author Michael J. Lewis to be “quite simply the most important book on Kahn” published in over two decades, The Houses of Louis Kahn examines the architect’s nine major residential commissions in detail, offering an overview of Kahn’s relationship with his projects’ patrons and his active involvement with the design of interiors and furniture. The 280-page book features all new photography of the homes, alongside period photographs and original drawings, and previously unpublished materials from personal interviews, archives, and Kahn’s own writings.

To participate, all you have to do is answer the following question in the comment section below: “Which Kahn project do you find most inspiring and why?”

You have until Monday, November 18th to submit your answers. The winner will be contacted the following day. Good luck! 

Interior of Louis Kahn's 1971 Korman House to be Redesigned

Though Louis Kahn turned down developer Steven Korman numerous times, the would-be patron persisted and eventually convinced Kahn to accept the commission for a residence which was to contain “rooms large enough to play football in.” Located in Forth Washington, Pennsylvania, the Korman house would be Kahn’s final residential project. 

The house, considered a masterpiece, is characterized not only by Kahn’s assiduous sense of order, but also a unique combination of materials that create a play of structure and light. Decades after the original 1971 commission, Korman's son Larry has now selected New York based-designer Jennifer Post to take on the task of redesigning the interior space of the house.