ART

KAHN%2C+LOUIS

KAHN, LOUIS
KAHN, LOUIS
PENNSYLVANIA
Louis Isadore Kahn (February 20, 1901 - March 17, 1974)
practiced as an architect in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and taught architecture there and at Yale.

Kahn was born on the Estonian island of Saaremaa. In 1901, his family immigrated to the United States, fearing that his father would be recalled into the military during the Russo-Japanese War. He was raised in Philadelphia and became a naturalized citizen on May 15, 1914.

He trained in a rigorous Beaux-Arts tradition, with its emphasis on drawing, at the University of Pennsylvania ("Penn"), after completing his Master's degree in 1924, Kahn made a European tour and settled in the medieval walled city of Carcassonne, rather than any of the strongholds of classicism or modernism. In 1925-1926 the bow tie-sporting Kahn served as Chief Designer for the Sesquicentennial Exposition. From 1947 he spent a decade teaching at Yale, where his influence was paramount, then moved to Penn. His prominent apprentices include Moshe Safdie and Robert Venturi.

He died of a heart attack in a bathroom in Pennsylvania Station in New York City. He was not identified for three days, as he had crossed out the home address on his passport. He had just returned from a work trip to India. Louis Kahn's work infused International Style with a fastidious, highly personal taste, a poetry of light. His few projects reflect his deep personal involvement with each Isamu Naoguchi called him "a philosopher among architects".

Kahn had three different families with three different women: his wife, Esther; Anne Tyng, a co-worker; and Harriet Pattison. His obituary in the New York Times, written by Paul Goldberger, famously mentions only Esther and his daughter by her as survivors. But in 2003, Kahn's son with Pattison, Nathaniel Kahn, released an Oscar-nominated biographical documentary about his father, titled My Architect: A Son's Journey, which gives glimpses of the architecture while focusing on talking to the people who knew him: family, friends and colleagues. It includes interviews with renowned architect contemporaries such as Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson, I.M. Pei, and Robert A.M. Stern, but also an insider's view of Kahn's unusual family arrangements. The unusual manner of his death is used as a point of departure and a metaphor for Kahn's life in the film.