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Thread: Philadelphia architect Louis I. Kahn (1901-1974)

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    Philadelphia architect Louis I. Kahn (1901-1974)

    Well, I'm on my way out the door to see the movie My Architect , anybody seen the movie or want to comment on the work of Louis I. Kahn? If I'm inspired , I'll take some pics of The Salk Institute. He also designed the Parliament and Capitol Buildings in Dhaka, Bangladesh but I've never seen these buildings.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    A screwed-up life!

    Personally, at least. I've heard the movie's pretty good. The father of a friend of mine worked for him and was on-site in Bangladesh. I met him, but didn't get to talk about Kahn much. His famous Bath house in Trenton, NJ is right near me, which you'll see in the film, I believe. Its in danger of demolition. A group is working to save it. Its had some ill-considered alterations over the years. I can get pics if anyone's interested. Of course, I'd rather be in La Jolla at the Salk institute!

  3. #3
    I'd rather be in La Jolla at the Salk institute!
    I was in La Jolla to watch the movie last night and I give it a thumbs up. The buildings in Bangladesh are amazing! It's true, all Architects wear black rimmed glasses and black clothes . In the movie I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry and the best was Edmund N. Bacon, former Philadelphia urban planner.

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    Cyburbian Howard Roark's avatar
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    You have to start wearing black the day you get your seal, it the professions way of assuring that we stay vague and mysterious.

    Kahn was a mdernist w/ some compassion for the human element, and more importantly realized that his buildings do not exist in a vacuum and were susceptible to enviromental forces, his stuff has aged pretty good campared to some contemporaries.

    Alot of famous architects end w/ strange lives, tragic endings, misstrisses, ect... Which would seem like a good deterrent from ever getting published.
    She has been a bad girl, she is like a chemical, though you try and stop it she is like a narcotic.

  5. #5
    and more importantly realized that his buildings do not exist in a vacuum and were susceptible to enviromental forces
    Ed Bacon was bitching that Architects in general have no concept for designing buildings that fit in the existing landscape, no concept for the master plan. Bacon mentions Kahn's proposal to build circular parking garages outside the city of Philadelphia so, the city would be a walkable city.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Six degrees from Ed Bacon

    My friend's dad, who worked for Kahn for many years, was invited to the Philadelphia premier. Of course he had to kid Kahn's son about being good enough for the premier but not good enough to be interviewed for the movie. I'll have to make sure I talk to him before he passes away.

    Ed Bacon seems to be a real curmudgeon these days, doesn't like anything being built. He was vehemently opposed to the Constitution Center that Philly put in Independence Mall. Of course, that was a space he carved out years ago, wasn't it?

    I just realized that is my seven degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, Ed's son! And I'm not even in Hollywood! I also worked for a landscape architect who knew Kahn when they were both members of Philadelphia's arts commission. He told me a funny story about him. Kahn was holding up all these bridge construction projects for the city. He kept sending them back to the engineers, dissatisfied with their designs. He got a call from then-Mayor Rizzo to do something about it or else he'd have to dismiss Kahn. He just wanted the bridges built. Rizzo wasn't the aesthete among Philadelphia mayors. Then again, I can't recall one who seemed to have a grasp of the aesthetic dimensions of his city.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Doitnow!!'s avatar
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    Kahn did some work in India too. He designed the famous Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad( Western India).
    The Institute
    Images
    Informative Site
    Another Interesting one

    I lived in that city for two years and have seen the building. Its a wonderful project. Only that he used exposed brickwork and the building lookes very aged now.
    There was an extension to the building done respecting Kahn's designs and values by a well known Indian Architect by the name Anant Raje.
    Incidentally The Indian national Association for Students of Architecture has one of it's annula design competition trophies named 'The Louis Kahn Trophy'.
    "I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them".
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    there's an old "documentary" from the early 60's with Bacon talking about his big plans for Center City - part of it is him making fun of the then current plans for Independence Mall. Independence Mall and most of the "historic" bldgs. didn't exist at that point. He was arguing that buildings should frame the mall itself, not the streets around it, because he said "no one will use this mall if it's just an empty void" and he was right. He was right - no one did use it. It gets a lot more traffic now that they've moved the Liberty Bell and the Visitor's Center - part of his original suggestion.

    I can understand his problem with the siting of the Constitution Center. Penn originally laid out 5 public squares. (center square is now covered by city hall)

    Independence Mall covers all of the blocks between Washington Square and Franklin Square but one block to the east. The Constitution Center cuts Franklin Square out of the picture and Franklin Square already had enough problems.
    The north, south and east sides are taken up by approaches to the Ben Franklin Bridge (676 East) and the west side is a main drag leading to 676 West and I-95.
    (676 is the yellow line) Putting the Constitution Center at the top of the mall was more or less the final nail in the coffin.

    He was also talking about his other plans in the documentary , ironically, building 676 as a CBD loop. Only the Vine St. portion got built. The other part was supposed to go down our beloved South St. Building 95 along the Delaware that destroyed the oldest bldgs. in the city. And to his credit - building a hotel on the waterfront (that was finished 2 years ago) and building the commuter rail tunnel and Market East station.

    at the top of the picture you can see windows at street level with sunlight coming in. Just above the front of the train you can see the windows at concourse level where the subway connections are, and of course at the bottow are the platforms. 2 tracks eastbound and 2 tracks westbound.
    Last edited by jresta; 05 Mar 2004 at 4:53 PM.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  9. #9
    Kahn did some work in India too. He designed the famous Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad( Western India).
    Doitnow, the movie spends some time at the school of management, also they speak with an Indian Architect that seems to really understand and explain Kahn as a flawed human being.

    there's an old "documentary" from the early 60's with Bacon talking about his big plans for Center City - part of it is him making fun of the then current plans for Independence Mall.
    What's that Documentary called? Nice info on Phillidelphia.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    I gotta know!

    Hey Irish One,

    I've gathered from your posts that you're an architect or planner in the San Diego area. If I could take a bit of your time, I've been thinking of moving to San Diego for some time now, and I wonder what you think of it, architecturally and culturally speaking. I am a landscape architect and there seems to be a lot of work in SoCal. I know I'd like the climate, but other aspects of SoCal culture turn me off, like car culture, the auto orientation of it all, the "duuude" stereotype, the bottle blondes with plastic boobs. In some ways it comes across as rather superficial and fake. Where I am now I have the cultural resources of NYC and Philadelphia nearby. I do anjoy the lack of aggressiveness and attitude you find in most other parts of the country. I've heard people are laid back there. Are they so laid back that I'd find their speech patterns excruciatingly slow, like I do in the south?

    Any insight you can provide is appreciated.

    My Dad is flying out there later this month to look at houses in Baja, so I guess he likes the idea.

    Thanks,
    TT

  11. #11
    I'm a student
    Downtown San Diego is great and the surrounding nieghborhoods are really nice. There are plenty of Architectual finds through out the city. What I like about the city is the potential for lots of experimental community development. http://www.sannet.gov/cityofvillages/pvp/index.shtml Outside the urban core of San Diego lies the neverending sprawl. On the coast you'll find interesting places, inland will be more challenging.

    Culturally speaking I would say San Diego is a conservative town and a military town but there is plenty of room for liberals as well. It's a laid back city/county in the recreational sense but in business it's as serious as anywhere in the country, if not more. We're very much a middle income White/Hispanic county. It's an ethnicly diverse place. I work with two Czech's, lots of Mexican's, a Serbian, Russian and Couple of Colombian's and a few African and Anglo Americans. You're not going to get what you find in NY and Philly, though it's worth mentioning I've met plenty of Northeast transplants who are happy with the area, some have left though. Complaints I hear are that people are shallow here and that can be true. I find people to be timid towards others in everyday activities -especially in suburbia. You will not get the in your face attitude that you find in your parts -you might actually miss that! Blonde bimbos and surfer dudes are around and if you meet up with any I'm sure you'll be entertained. Car culure is everything you hear and worse. I used to work for a nursery that contracted with a Landscape Designer and that guy is busy year round, never has a break so I think your assesment for LA's in San Diego is a good one. We kind of suck in the culinary department but it really depends on your tastes. Tell me where in the county you're looking at and I can be more specific. Hope that helps.

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