Louis Isadore Kahn : architect biography

famous architect : Louis Isadore Kahn [page1] [page2]

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Louis Isadore Kahn architect
Louis Isadore Kahn architect
Louis Isadore Kahn architect
Louis Isadore Kahn architect

Louis Isadore Kahn

Louis Isadore Kahn architect Louis Isadore Kahn (1901-1974), U.S. architect, educator, and philosopher, is one of the foremost twentieth-century architects. Louis I. Kahn evolved an original theoretical and formal language that revitalized modern architecture. His best known works, located in the United States, India, and Bangladesh, were produced in the last two decades of his life. They reveal an integration of structure, a reverence for materials and light, a devotion to archetypal geometry, and a profound concern for humanistic values.

Born in 1901 on the Baltic island of Osel, Louis Isadore Kahn's family emigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1905, where Louis Isadore Kahn lived the rest of his life. Trained in the manner of the Ecole des Beaux Arts under Paul Philippe Cret, Louis Isadore Kahn graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Fine Arts in 1924. Among his first professional experiences was the 1926 Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exhibition. In the following years Louis Isadore Kahn worked in the offices of Philadelphia's leading architects, Paul Cret (1929-1930) and Zantzinger, Borie and Medary (1930-1932). During the lean years of the 1930s, Louis Isadore Kahn was devoted to the study of modern architecture and housing in particular. Louis I. Kahn undertook housing studies for the Architectural Research Group (1932-1933), a short-lived organization Louis Isadore Kahn helped to establish, and for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission.

In the later 1930s Louis I. Kahn served as a consultant to the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the United States Housing Authority. His familiarity with modern architecture was broadened when Kahn worked with European emigres Alfred Kastner and Oskar Stonorov. In the early 1940s Louis Isadore Kahn associated with Stonorov and George Howe, with whom Louis Isadore Kahn designed several wartime housing projects such as Carver Court in Coatesville, Pennsylvania (1941-1944) and Pennypack Woods in Philadelphia (1941-1943). His interest in public housing culminated in Philadelphia's Mill Creek Housing project (1951-1963). From these experiences, Louis Isadore Kahn developed a deep sense of social responsibility reflected in his later philosophy of the "institutions" of man.

The year 1947 was a turning point in Louis Isadore Kahn 's career. Kahn established an independent practice and began a distinguished teaching career, first at Yale University as Chief Critic in Architectural Design and Professor of Architecture (1947-1957) and then at the University of Pennsylvania as Cret Professor of Architecture (1957-1974). During those years, his ideas about architecture and the city took shape. Eschewing the international style modernism that characterized his earlier work, Kahn sought to redefine the bases of architecture through a reexaminntion of structure, form, space, and light. Louis Isadore Kahn described his quest for meaningful form as a search for "beginnings," a spiritual resource from which modern man could draw inspiration. The powerful and evocative forms of ancient brick and stone ruins in Italy, Greece, and Egypt where Louis I. Kahn traveled in 1950-1951 while serving as Resident Architect at the American Academy in Rome were an inspiration in his search for what is timeless and essential. The effects of this European odyssey, the honest display of structure, a desire to create a sense of place, and a vocabulary of abstract forms rooted in Platonic geometry resonate in his later masterpieces of brick and concrete, his preferred materials. Louis Isadore Kahn reintroduced geometric, axial plans, centralized spaces, and a sense of solid mural strength, reflective of his beaux-arts training and eschewed by modern architects.

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Louis I. Kahn - Great Buildings Online
Vitruvio.ch - Louis Isadore Kahn ( Estonia)

Louis Isadore Kahn 's first mature work, the addition to the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven. Connecticut. 1951-1953). indicates his interest in experimental structural systems. The floor slabs of poured-in-place concrete were inspired by tetrahedral space frames. The raw texture of the concrete reveals his belief that the method of construction should not be concealed. The hollow, pyramidal spaces in the ceiling, which accommodate lighting and mechanical systems, anticipate his later idea of "served and servant spaces" the hierarchical definition of a buildings functions. The expression of served and servant spaces is clearly enunciated in two later works, the Richards Medical Research Building at the University of Pennsylvania (1957-1965) and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (LaJolla, California, 1959-1965). In the design of the Richards Building. Louis Isadore Kahn gave form to a brilliant structural system devised with the engineer August E. Komendant, with whom Louis Isadore Kahn collaborated on numerous projects. The laboratories were constructed of precast, post-tensioned reinforced concrete, a system that permitted large flexible laboratory spaces. The servant spaces containing stairs and exhaust chimneys become monumental brick towers attached to the perimeter of the cellular laboratory spaces The towers form a silhouette complementing the chimneys and towers of the neighboring collegiate Gothic dormitories, and in an abstract guise they suggest the towers of medieval Italian towns that Louis Isadore Kahn admired. In the design of the Salk Institute. Louis Isadore Kahn gives further expression to servant spaces with a 9-ft-high mechanical floor sandwiched between laboratory floors Much more than the demonstration of service spaces, the Salk Institute is an example of Louis Isadore Kahn 's desire to give form to the institutions of man. In a spectacular setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean, two long laboratory wings flank a stonepaved plaza bisected by a narrow rill. In accord with the wishes of the patron and founder, Dr. Jonas Salk, Louis Isadore Kahn created an environment where the interdependency of scientific and humanistic disciplines could be realized.

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While Louis Isadore Kahn exhibited a compelling concern for structure, Louis Isadore Kahn sought to infuse his buildings with the symbolic meaning of the institutions they housed. Composed of austere geometries, his spaces are intended to evoke an emotional, empathetic response. "Architecture," Kahn said, "is the thoughtful making of spaces" (1). Beyond its functional role, Louis Isadore Kahn believed architecture must also evoke the feeling and symbolism of timeless human values. Louis I. Kahn attempted to explain the relationship between the rational and romantic dichotomy in his "form-design" thesis, a theory of composition articulated in 1959. In his personal philosophy, form is conceived as formless and unmeasur-able, a spiritual power common to all mankind. It transcends individual thoughts, feelings, and conventions.

Form characterizes the conceptual essence of one project from another, and thus it is the initial step in the creative process. Design, however, is measurable and takes into consideration the specific circumstances of the program. Practical and functional concerns are contained in design. The union of form and design is realized in the final product, and the building's symbolic meaning is once again unmeasurable.

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