photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
i dont believe i paid much attention to architecture until i discovered the work of LOUIS KAHN in the early 2000s. there is something almost ETERNAL and ELEMENTAL about the scale, material and basic nature of his forms that is deeply AFFECTING. almost in a similar manner to how a MINIMALIST MARK ROTHKO painting wipes away with all learned notions and expectations of the WESTERN ART traditions and presents a STAGGERING work seemingly completely devoid of pretension. instead it is just pure UNADULTERATED EXPRESSION.
over the years ive come close to but have never had the pleasure of physically inhabiting one of his spaces. the most NOTABLE and CELEBRATED of which include the SALK INSTITUTE FOR BIOLOGICAL STUDIES (LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA), PARLIAMENT BUILDING (DHAKA, BANGLADESH), PHILLIPPS EXETER ACADEMY LIBRARY (EXETER, NEW HAMPSHIRE), THE KIMBELL ART MUSEUM (FORT WORTH, TEXAS), YALE UNIVERSITY ART GALLERY (NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT) and the INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT (AHMEDABAD, INDIA) among others. KAHN is renowned for his CLEVER use of concrete and repetitive basic shapes, often at a grand scale. there is a perceptible and palpable sense of WEIGHT and PERMANENCE to his designs. so much so that his constructions are often described in quasi-religious language by peers, academics and laymen alike.
there is an INCREDIBLE documentary that was directed by his son NATHANIEL KAHN entitled MY ARCHITECT: A SON'S JOURNEY (NEW YORKER FILMS, 2003) that attempts to make sense of his work through the DETACHED eyes of a child that was largely abandoned. it was as if LOUIS was so consumed with his work that all other familial priorities took a distant second place in comparison. its pretty tragic yet inspiring at the same time since NATHANIEL physically walks amongst his father's buildings and witnesses the impact they have had on disparate communities worldwide.
one of the oddest things about LOUIS is that he was found dead in a PENN STATION bathroom after suffering a heart attack. this world RENOWNED architect and ACCLAIMED professor of design at the UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA passed on in what is largely considered to be one of the great architectural travesties of all time. taken down and pushed underground in order to make way for the modern MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, the PATHETIC destruction of the old PENN STATION complex and the experience of using this new facility is described by architectural historian in the DEVASTATING quip: "one entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat." its compounded tragedy that LOUIS had the misfortune of passing away in that location of all places after a return from INDIA, waiting on a train home to PHILADELPHIA.
if you are unfamiliar with the MONUMENTAL creative work of LOUIS KAHN, definitely look him up. his example has inspired a lifelong passion in architecture for myself, something i hadnt considered beforehand. most definitely worth checking out.