Welcome back to #ModernistMondays! At TTC, we are constantly inspired by modernist architects and artists from past and present. To showcase some of our favorites, we launched #ModernistMondays, where we highlight one modernist a month to explore with ten quick facts. You can keep up with #ModernistMondays on the TTC Blog, or our Instagram page! This month, we are diving into the legacy of Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn with ten quick facts!.
Louis Kahn 1901-1974
Born in Estonia, Kahn and his family moved to Philadelphia at an early age, where he studied at The University of Pennsylvania, where he later served as a professor.
Khan is known for blending modernist principles with monument-like scale and shapes. His monument-like National Assembly Building of Bangladesh was designed as a symbol of democracy and pride for the country.
A major influence in Kahn’s style was how light engaged with ancient, monumental forms. This led to most of his work using geometric forms that allowed light in.
His first major commission, the Yale University Art Gallery, combined studios, classrooms, and offices. Across the road is his final project, the Yale Center for British Art.
The Four Freedoms Park in Long Island City, a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt (a reference to his “four freedoms” speech) was designed by Kahn in 1974, but was not built until 2012, after his death.
His experience working on the Alfred Newton Richards Medical Research and Biology laboratories in his hometown of Philadelphia influenced his work on the Salk Institute, where he amended and improved upon certain functionalities.
After finding the vaccine for Polio in 1955, Jonas Salk commissioned Kahn to build the Salk Institute in San Diego. The concrete campus, completed in 1965, contains laboratories that are strategically designed to be easy to update with new technology.
Kahn collaborated with architect Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi on the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. Kahn has been described by his son as “a collaborator of extraordinary abilities.”
As a professor at The University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and MIT, Kahn inspired the next generation of modernist architects through two decades of teaching.
Louis Kahn tragically passed away at Penn Station in 1974, and was honored in an Oscar-nominated documentary “My Architect: A Son’s Journey,” directed by his son in 2003.
SOURCES: Wikipedia, “Louis Kahn”; Archdaily, “Spotlight: Louis Kahn”; Moma.org, “Louis Kahn”; Architect Magazine, “The Enduring Legacy of Louis Kahn”; Design Curial, “Louis Kahn – Six Most Important Buildings”