We’ve built you a better ArchDaily. Learn more and let us know what you think. Send us your feedback »

Video: Louis Kahn Talks to a Brick

In this jaunty little clip, Louis Kahn stresses the importance of honoring your materials to a group of students at the University of  Pennsylvania. 

Estonia-born in 1901, Louis Kahn had a steadfast belief that all materials had their own destiny and wouldn't tolerate any attempt to deviate from that. During the age of clean modernism and the use of cutting edge materials, his architecture was often dismissed for being overly symbolic and heavily venerating buildings of the past. Influenced by the arid nature of many of his sites, Kahn's buildings often took the form of cavernous brick shells with large geometrical cut outs, which he would like to describe them - in his bizarre Kahn-way - as ruins in reverse.

Here are a few more of Kahn's intriguing brick creations:

National Assembly Building of Bangladesh Indian Institute of Management Exeter Library First Unitarian Church of Rochester

For more information about Kahn and his brick channeling abilities you can read this rather excellent article by the Guardian's Olly Wainwright, entitled "Louis Kahn: the brick whisperer". 

BUILDING: Louis I. Kahn at Roosevelt Island / Barney Kulok

In September 2011 Barney Kulok  was granted special permission to create photographs at the construction site of Louis I. Kahnʼs Four Freedoms Park in New York City, commissioned in 1970 as a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The last design Kahn completed before his untimely death in 1974, Four Freedoms Park became widely regarded as one of the great unbuilt masterpieces of twentieth-century architecture. Almost forty years after having been commissioned, it is finally being completed this year, as originally intended. 

Kahn's FDR Four Freedoms Park Opens in NYC!

© Diane Bondareff / Four Freedoms Park
© Diane Bondareff / Four Freedoms Park

October 24 marks the long-awaited grand opening of the Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Four Freedoms Park in New York City. Located on a triangular site formed by the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, the four-acre FDR memorial park stands for the “freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear”. It was conceived nearly four decades ago by the legendary architect Louis Kahn, shortly before his death in 1974. Read our previous coverage for all the design details and get a sneak peak after the break with images from the dedication ceremony.

Louis Kahn retrospective premiers tomorrow in Rotterdam

© Dave Morris
© Dave Morris

The Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) will host the exhibition Louis Kahn, The Power of Architecture from September 8 to January 6, 2012. Louis Kahn is known to be one of the most influential architects of the 20th century and has inspired generations with his masterful use of space, light and material. Among Kahn’s major works are the Salk Institute (California), the Kimbell Art Museum (Texas), the Indian Institute of Management (India), and the Assembly Buildings for the Bangladeshi Parliament (Bangladesh). He designed these projects in the 1950s and 1960s at a time when the conviction of architects that their mission was to improve society was enormous. Kahn’s influence can be seen in the work of important architects such as Aldo Rossi, Robert Venturi, James Stirling, Mario Botta and Tadao Ando. The exhibition will feature drawings, sketches, photographs, watercolors, film material and scale models by Kahn in an effort to show a broad public how important architecture can be for society. Fine more information on the exhibition here.

New York City’s first Kahn Structure nears Completion

Aerial image courtesy Amiaga Photographers, Inc. www.amiaga.com
Aerial image courtesy Amiaga Photographers, Inc. www.amiaga.com

Nearly 40 years after Welfare Island was renamed to honor President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), the Four Freedoms Park is nearly complete. The four-acre park, located on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in New York City, honors the 32nd U.S. President and the four essential freedoms he believed in. The legendary architect Louis I. Kahn , FAIA (1901-1974) was commissioned to design the memorial in the early seventies and completed the design right before his unfortunate death in 1974. As New York City approached bankruptcy, the project was put on hold until March 29, 2010. Now, many are anxiously anticipating the park’s grand opening that will take place this Fall. Continue after the break to learn about the story and design of Four Freedoms Park.

President Roosevelt delivering the Four Freedoms speech. Credit: public domain Forecourt - Credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC East Promenade and Monumental Stair - Credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC The "Room" from the East River - Credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC

Films & Architecture: "My Architect"

This week we will propose the first documentary of the list within our section of Films & Architecture. There is not much to say about the figure of Kahn, since it has been worldwide recognized. Nevertheless this is a film that captures in a magnificent way the greatness of Kahn’s work through his son’s journey. I guess everyone related somehow with architecture will feel touched by this extraordinary recording. Let us know in the comments what is (or was) your experience watching the film.

In Progress: Four Freedoms Park / Louis Kahn

Via Bloomberg
Via Bloomberg

Last September, we shared the news of Louis Kahn’s memorial park for the southernmost tip of Roosevelt Island. Kahn had designed the park in the 70s, but after his sudden death, the plan was forgotten until 1992 when the MoMA featured the scheme in an exhibition.   Upon learning of Kahn’s thoughtful and architecturally compelling ideas to commemorate FDR and his Four Freedoms speech,  the public quickly advocated its completion.   As we reported earlier, at the end of Kahn’s axial tree-lined triangular “Garden”, a 72 sqf   “Room” will contain excerpts from the text of President Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech.  This room, contained by 12 foot high granite columns, is meant for contemplation and remembrance as Kahn’s stoic material palette, clear formal attitude, and forced perspective of the skyline will create, what we imagine will be, a quiet and peaceful atmosphere.   With Kahn’s simple gestures, the memorial will preserve a time in American history where FDR’s leadership inspired hope to endure the Great Depression and the second World War.  We’re excited for the memorial to be completed and we’ll keep you up to date with its progress. A great sample of construction photos and renderings after the break.

Louis Kahn on the Thoughtful Making of Spaces / Michael Merrill

From previously unpublished material and new analytic drawings this book explores Louis Kahn’s Dominican Motherhouse, his unbuilt masterpiece. Kahn pushed and prodded modern architecture into a crisis that questioned aspects of space that modernism had proudly banished from its program. The Dominican Motherhouse is an exemplary exhibition of Kahn’s relentless questioning of architectural space: seeking the sources of its meaning in its social, morphological, landscape and contextual dimensions. The questions brought up again and again in this book are as pertinent today as they were Kahn was asking them.

Architecture City Guide: San Diego

This week our Architecture City Guide is headed to San Diego. It is home to the Salk Institute, one of Louis Kahn’s most well-known buildings, and Richard Neutra’s Airman’s Memorial Chapel. One could argue that these alone make a visit worth the trip. That said, we have put together a list of 12 great contemporary buildings that are also worth seeing. By limiting ourselves to 12 buildings we were not even able to include all the ones we have previously featured on our website. Take a look at our list and add to it in the comment section below. Architecture City Guide: San Diego list and corresponding map after the break!

'Six Architects' posters by Andrea Gallo

Mies van der Rohe / © Andrea Gallo
Mies van der Rohe / © Andrea Gallo

We saw this incredible set of posters from iconic architects created by artist Andrea Gallo and felt the need to share them with you. They will be available for sale soon, so we look forward to buy one and decorate our office! Which one would you get? Check the posters of Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, Alvar Aalto and Walter Gropius after the break.

Louis I. Kahn exhibition opens at Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles

Today the Istituto Italiano di Cultura of Los Angeles (IIC) will celebrate the opening of the first comprehensive exhibition on the cultural connection of the iconic American architect Louis I. Kahn and Italy. Entitled Kahn in Venice, the show was co‐organized by the ICC and the Louis I. Kahn collection of the University of Pennsylvania Archives. The exhibition was designed by Kahn protégés Barton Myers and David Karp, along with Yianna Bouyioukou of Barton Myers Associates. A charcoal sketch of the Palazzo, accompanied by a model, is the centerpiece of the show, which also includes a comprehensive collection of Kahn’s travel sketches in Italy. The exhibition will run through March 19, 2011. You can find more information here.

New Yorkers top Architectural Events of 2010

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

This years architectural events in New York are bound to have a meaningful effect on the years to come; the decision by NYU to add another tower complementing I.M Pei’s existing Silver Towers complex (rather than their initial plan to demolish them), the opening of the first section of Brooklyn Bridge Park coupled with the completion of the High Line has re-established New York City as a key model to reference when it comes to designing urban public space, and finally construction began on Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, by Louis Kahn, to name a few. From transportation, urban planning, exhibitions, residential and office buildings follow the break to see the New Yorkers list of some of the most influential decisions surrounding architecture over the past year in New York.

Progress on Four Freedoms Park / Louis Kahn

Although the field of architecture continually  changes with advances in technology and shifts in society and culture, there rest a few names that seem frozen in time, as their ideas will continually influence generations of architects to come.  Of them, Louis Kahn has been revered as a master of the 20th century and soon, his memorial park design of the 1970s will finally be completed in New York.    The memorial is named after FDR’s Four Freedoms speech from 1941 where he declares that “In the future days,….we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want–which, translated into universal terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants–everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.” More about Kahn’s design after the break.