Louis Isadore Kahn


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Born in Estonia, he settled in the USA in 1905, only becoming an internationally renowned architect in the 1950s, starting with the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT (1951–3). Then in 1957–64 came the influential Alfred Newton Richards Medical Research Building, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, where the laboratories were clearly separated from the services stacked in slim towers, giving the whole composition a powerful monumentality. Kahn's insistence that there should be a distinction between served and serving volumes was taken a stage further with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA (1959–65), where the ducts were placed horizontally in the structure spanning the laboratory, while the towers housed study-areas. For the Performing Arts Theater, Fort Wayne, IN (1965–74), Kahn used segmental brick arches springing from concrete blocks, a traditional image that signified his return to an architecture that was more humane and expressive than much that the Modern Movement produced. Highly controlled geometries and meticulous detailing gave the Phillips Exeter Academy Library, NH (1967–72), a sense of order and dignity that marked Kahn's later work. His use of traditional brick detailing in his Indian Institute of Management Studies, Ahmadabad (1962–74), drew on Roman and other precedents to produce a work of rare quality. Other buildings by Kahn include the Erdman Dormitory Block, Bryn Mawr College, PA (1960–5), the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX (1967–72), and the Mellon Center for British Art and Studies, Yale University (1969–77). At the end of his life he built the National Assembly of Bangladesh, Dacca (1962–83), an emotive work that drew on many historical and traditional allusions, but for which he had problems in getting paid, with the result that his office ran into severe financial difficulties. His work marked a significant move away from International Modernism towards new directions in architecture.

Ashraf (1994);D. B. Brownlee & Long (1992);Büttiker (1993);Gast (1998, 1999);Giurgola & Mehta (1975);L. Kahn (1969, 1973, 1975, 1977);Klotz (1988);K. Larson et al. (2000);Placzek (ed.) (1982);D. Robinson (1997);Ronner et al. (1987);V. J. Scully (1962);Tafuri (1980);Tyng (1984);Wurman (ed.) (1986)

Subjects: Architecture.

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