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Louis Kahn: The Latest Architecture and News

Why the Drawings of Louis Kahn Still Matter

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

In an age of ebooks and web-first publishing, Louis Kahn: The Importance of a Drawing (Lars Müller Publishers) is a defiant throwback: a lavish, 500-plus-page book, very much an object befitting its subject, whose buildings had a weight, both literal and figurative, that was part of their power and appeal. Conceived and edited by Michael Merrill, the book is both a deep examination of Kahn’s creative process, as told through the medium of the hand drawing, as well as a revealing portrait of the man behind those buildings and illustrations. Merrill is an architect and educator and currently serves as director of research at the Institute for Building Typology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. He’s also the author of two previous books on the master architect, Louis Kahn: Drawing to Find Out and Louis Kahn: On the Thoughtful Making of Spaces.

Hybrid parking structure. Image © Philadelphia Civic Center, Louis Kahn, 1956-57.© National Assembly, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1962-83, diagrammatic plan, Louis Kahn, circa 1963-64.Left-hand page: Towers, San Gimignano, Italy, Louis Kahn, 1928. Right-hand page: Richards Medical Research Building, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1957-60.Why the Drawings of Louis Kahn Still Matter+ 6

Architecture is Human: But Beauty is Found Everywhere

"Image of El Molo Hut. Turkana, Kenya via Shutterstock
"Image of El Molo Hut. Turkana, Kenya via Shutterstock

If Nature had been comfortable, mankind would never have invented architecture. - Oscar Wilde

Architecture is human. Despite their exquisite beauty,  burrows, hives, nests and anthills are creations of instinct.  Design by humans considers options, means and methods of creation, solving problems of desire, beyond functional accommodations.

Slime molds growing on dead leaves in an almost perfect alignment. Photo by @BeaLeiderman via TwitterAlberelo Italy, Architecture without Architects John StefanidisConstruction techniques used in earth architectureDogone Village, Mali, Collection Musee de l'Homme+ 6

What Bricks Tell Us: A Quest to Survey Chicago's Bricks

In this video, Will Quam of Brick of Chicago takes us around the American city to question Louis Kahn’s adage that all bricks are motivated to be arches. Here, in the Logan Square neighborhood, we find bricks of all sorts, that — in addition to arches — take on other configurations and metaphors to describe their qualities; textile bricks and diapering, brushstrokes of a painting, butter joints and glazes, soldiers and bullnoses.

Lost Architecture: Exploring Unbuilt Masterpieces, Goldenberg House by Louis Kahn

The Goldenberg House was designed in 1959 by the architect Louis Kahn for Morgan and Mitzi Goldenberg. While the house was never constructed, it was cited by Kahn as holding important lessons for his design process that would be deployed in a number of later structures. These lessons are specifically related to how the outside of the house is irregular while the heart of it, the atrium is a perfect square. While we can see this discovery in the plan drawing for the house, there are likely nuances to its design that are more difficult to understand without being able to visit it in person. But, what if we can visit the Goldenberg House as if it had been built? This video explores the Goldenberg House, its history and design intentions, and uses the findings to construct a digital model of the house to explore in real-time.

Yugoslav Architect Svetlana Kana Radevic's Legacy on Postwar Architecture Highlighted in the 2021 Venice Biennale

Part of the Collateral Events of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, the extensive built work of Yugoslav architect Svetlana Kana Radević (1937-2000) is brought to light from May 22 until November 21 at the Palazzo Palumbo Fossati. Entitled “Skirting the Center: Svetlana Kana Radević on the Periphery of Postwar Architecture”, the exhibition curated by Dijana Vucinic and Anna Kats, aims to highlight the architect’s work and expand her representation.

Architect Svetlana Kana Radevic, Hotel Podgorica, personal archive. Image Courtesy of APSS Institute Architect Svetlana Kana Radevic, Monument to Fallen Fighters of Ljesanska Nahija, Barutana Podgorica, built in 1980, photographer Luka Boskovic. Image Courtesy of APSS InstituteArchitect Svetlana Kana Radevic,Bus station, Podgorica 1968, private archive. Image Courtesy of APSS InstituteArchitect Svetlana Kana Radevic,  Petrovac Apartment Building, built in 1967, photo from APSS archive. Image Courtesy of APSS Institute+ 14

Richard Saul Wurman: “There’s a Louis Kahn Cult, and I’m a Member!”

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Dan Klyn, who teaches information architecture at the University of Michigan, is currently researching and writing a biography entitled Richard Saul Wurman’s 5 Lives. It’s an apt title, since the intellectually peripatetic Wurman has had several career incarnations: architect, author, publisher, designer, painter, sculptor, impresario (he created and thoroughly curated the early TED talks). “In a sense, I’m an amateur, a dilettante, I don’t do anything particularly well, but I see patterns between things,” he said to me in a recent interview, although his modesty here seems somewhat false: Wurman is a member of the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame; an AIA Fellow; has written, designed, and published more than 100 books; won a lifetime achievement award from the Cooper Hewitt; and is the recipient of the AIGA Gold Medal.

Louis Kahn’s Society of Rooms

In this video, Architecture with Stewart breaks down the floor plan strategies of Louis Kahn (1901-1974) for how they treat and arrange rooms in servant/served configurations. After World War II showed us the dark underbelly of technology, the architecture that gave us “machines for living in'' seemed misguided and dehumanizing. In contrast to pre-war open and free plans, Louis Kahn considered new possibilities for rooms; believing their privacy and enclosures could work together in a ‘society of rooms.’ Beginning with a close look at the Trenton Bath House, the video includes computer animations, sketches, photographs, and historical narratives to trace the evolution of the room through buildings like the Adler House, Esherick House, and the Exeter library ⁠— a monumental room of cultural memory.

Harriet Pattison on the Creative Process of Louis Kahn and Making History

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Nathaniel Kahn’s 2003 documentary, My Architect, was at its beating heart a son’s search for his father. The film, which was nominated for an Academy Award and will be re-released later this year, explored the complicated domestic life of Louis Kahn: three children, by three different partners, all of whom were kept largely in the dark about the existence of each other. But the film was as much about the work of Louis Kahn as it was about his personal life. And, as a result, it ignited a renewed interest in his buildings, both in the mainstream culture and across architectural academia.

Louis Kahn's Dormitories for the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad Saved from Demolition

As reported in The Times of India, the board of governors for the Indian Institute of Management, in Ahmedabad, India has canceled the proposal to demolish Louis Kahn’s buildings on campus and replacing them with new structures, after a worldwide pushback from the international architecture community.

Dormitories Built by Louis Kahn, Part of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, Set to be Demolished

The board of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad (IIMA) has announced that the dormitories, built by Louis Kahn and part of the overall campus design, will be demolished and replaced. In fact, the administration plans to “bring down at least 14 of 18 dorms which were built between 1968 and 1978" for showing "problems of leakages from the roof, dampness in walls, leakages in toilet walls, slabs, etc.”, according to the Indian Express.

© Dave MorrisCourtesy of Wikimedia Commons© Laurian Ghinitoiu© Laurian Ghinitoiu+ 8

A Planned Reprint of a Popular Book on Louis Kahn Brings His Drawings within Reach

There are plenty of books about the buildings of late American architect Louis I. Kahn, including those he authored. But his drawings hold a special fascination for his peers and fans, which explains why the blog Designers and Books is launching a Kickstarter to fund the reissue of one 1962 compilation of his sketches, which has been out of print for decades.

Spotlight: Louis Kahn

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.

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>Kimbell Art Museum. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/43508230@N00/3720242013/'>Flickr user grabadonut</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>National Assembly Building of Bangladesh. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:National_Assembly_of_Bangladesh,_Jatiyo_Sangsad_Bhaban,_2008,_8.JPG'>Wikimedia Commons user Lykantrop</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>Exeter Library (Class of 1945 Library) . Image via Wikimedia (Image from United States Library of Congress in public domain. Author Carol M Highsmith)+ 17

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

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 (2016), 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 Courtesy of LTL ArchitectsNotre 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 Courtesy of LTL ArchitectsUnited 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 Courtesy of LTL ArchitectsThe 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 Courtesy of LTL Architects+ 15

AD Classics: Salk Institute / Louis Kahn

This article was originally published on August 27, 2017. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.

In 1959, Jonas Salk, the man who had discovered the vaccine for polio, approached Louis I. Kahn with a project. The city of San Diego, California had gifted him with a picturesque site in La Jolla along the Pacific coast, where Salk intended to found and build a biological research center. Salk, whose vaccine had already had a profound impact on the prevention of the disease, was adamant that the design for this new facility should explore the implications of the sciences for humanity. He also had a broader, if no less profound, directive for his chosen architect: to “create a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso.” The result was the Salk Institute, a facility lauded for both its functionality and its striking aesthetics – and the manner in which each supports the other.[1,2]

© Liao Yusheng© Liao Yusheng© Liao Yusheng© Liao Yusheng+ 20

Federico Babina's "Archivoids" Depicts the Invisible Masses left by Famous Architects

Italian artist Federico Babina has published the latest in his impressive portfolio of architectural illustrations. “Archivoid” seeks to “sculpt invisible masses of space” through the reading of negatives – using the architectural language of famous designers past and present, from Frank Lloyd Wright to Bjarke Ingels.

Babina’s images create an inverse point of view, a reversal of perception for an alternative reading of space, and reality itself. Making negative space his protagonist, Babina traces the “Architectural footprints” of famous architects, coupling mysterious geometries with a vibrant color scheme.

© Federico Babina© Federico Babina© Federico Babina© Federico Babina+ 9