Louis I. Kahn
by Vincent Scully, Jr.
Over 100 illustrations, plans, drawings, and photographs, together with a selection from the writings of the architect, complete bibliography, and chronology.
Only in the past decade has the name of Louis Kahn become familiar throughout the world. Before his exciting designs for the Yale Art Gallery and the Richards Medical Research Building received their justified acclaim, his work was known to a few appreciative men-his students and the most discerning scholars and museum officials. Today, Philadelphia is the site of what are probably the most important new designs in the United States; and this activity flows directly from the offices of Louis Kahn.
This study examines Kahn's work in the context of historical developments and a changing critical attitude. Educated in, and strongly influenced by, the Beaux Arts tradition, dismissed by contemporary critics as old-fashioned or at best inconsequential, Kahn developed in relative obscurity. But the rugged strength and clarity of his designs are causing a reappraisal of critical attitudes - both toward himself as an architect and toward the role of tradition in mid-century architecture.
Although tradition has played a strong role in the emergence of Louis Kahn's personal style, he is clearly an architect of the future as much as of the present. His magnificent schemes for urban redevelopment, his plans for logical and convenient public facilities, his intricate (and beautiful) designs to regulate and coordinate traffic flow are all viable solutions to the most pressing design problems of today and tomorrow. In giving us an introduction to the Kahn of 1962 Mr. Scully is also giving us a basis to understand what will probably be the mainstream of American architecture for many years to come.
Vincent Scully is Professor of the History of Art at yale University, from which he obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. He has been interested in Kahn's work for several years, devoting major articles and lectures to the subject. His published books include The Schingle Style, which was awarded the College Art Association prize for 1955; The Earth, the Temple, and the Gods, a study on Greek sacred architecture; Frank Lloyd Wright, a monograph on the great American architect; and Modern Architecture, the Architecture of Democracy.
Jacket design by Lustig and Reich, developed from a photographic detail of the Richards Medical Research Building designed by Kahn.