1959

Louis I. Kahn

Goldenberg House

1


Louis Kahn's Goldenberg house project (1959) shows strong diagonals.
C. Ray Smith, Supermannerism: New Attitudes in Post-Modern Architecture (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1977), p. 100.


1997.03.26
Articles at Quondam
...my comparison of the Villa Rotunda and Kahn's Goldenberg House.


2002.09.01 11:48
finding the NT buried in snow
Finding the New Testament Buried in Snow
a new work by Stephen Lauf


2004.02.13 12:44
Re: of castles, fortifications, etc.
The administration building of the Academy of the New Church is a very early Mitchell/Giurgola building, whose design somewhat reenacts the design of Kahn's unexecuted Goldenberg House, which was to be built on a site just couple miles down from Bryn Athyn.


Excerpts from the interview with historian David Brownlee:
DB: In any case, what happens in the late '50's is a more palpable historical reference. There is the peculiarity of what I call the Philadelphia corner--the plan form that is sucked in at the corner--the diagonal across the corner (refers to Kahn's Goldenberg house and Venturi's beach house). They are both '59. Now I have to say, on the face of it, this (Goldenberg) is a lot more sophisticated looking design. But that element of design is seen in Mitchell Giurgola's work, and in Vreeland's work. That's a vocabulary that has gone around--it pops up in Kahn's work at this time--Kahn's dorm at Bryn Mawr, and the Richards Medical Building has it sort of implicitly--you enter off the diagonal of a corner…
SR: You see this corner treatment as something specifically about the Philadelphia School?
DB: I do. It all appears about the same time?
SR: Do you think anyone can be identified as being responsible for it? Does Venturi have a hand in it?
DB: I don't know. One of the things I would venture is to say that a more established architect like Kahn--with a formal vocabulary already established--may not be the place where you look for such provocative innovation. It certainly happens--but it is a teasing sort of thing.

2006.02.08 15:10
Thesis Semester [blog] 25 years ago
Late Sunday afternoon I used my parallel rule and even a compass. The Admnistration Building at the Academy of the New Church is a reenactment of Kahn's Goldenberg House (which was designed for a site in Rydel, Pennsylvania, further south down Huntington Pike). The plan analysis of the Administration Building is still inconclusive, so now it's back to CAD.

c0213

2015.04.05 09:49
What's your favorite piece of architecture?
Ury
Aedicula Intercourse
Whitemarsh Hall
Courthouse with Garage
Goldenberg House
Levy Memorial Playground
Electronic Calculation Center Olivetti at Rho-Milan
Palais des Congrès
Acadia National Park Headquarters Building
House 15
Museum for Nordrhein Westfalen
Wallraf-Richartz Museum
Eclectic Houses
Dresdner Bank
Retreat House
Wagner House
Mayor's House
Battery Park City
Parkway Interpolation
Analogous Building
Palace of Ottopia
Good-Bye House
Mosque Q
House of Shadows Bye
Gooding Trice House
Duchamp Inn
Ichnographia Ink Blot
Headquarters of D.A.T.A.
Courthouse Plus Ultra
Casa Unbekannt 001
New Not There City
Germantown Avenue University of Architecture
Cubist ICM
Whitemarsh Hall is the only building here that I have actually experienced, and Ury is the only other building here to have actually existed, but I live where Ury once was so it's a completely cerebral 'piece' of architecture for me now. In fact, as the first half of the list demonstrates, my favorite architecture teaches me something beyond what actually exists, and the latter half of the list is a wishful manifestation of architecture that perhaps goes beyond even that.



2012.07.10 20:52
The Philadelphia School, deterritorialized
In an October 1969 ("The Big Little Magazine: Perspecta 12 and the future of the architectural past," Architectural Forum) review of Perspecta 12, Peter Eisenman writes:
"It is difficult to judge in retrospect whether Perspecta, while purporting to be a reflection of history, was not in itself creating history. And while the making of history cannot, of course, be directly ascribed to Perspecta, one can practically trace the history of post-war American architecture through its pages, from the appearance of Paul Rudolph's early Florida houses in Perspecta 1, to the Adler and DeVore houses of Louis Kahn in Perspecta 3, which in a quiet way signaled a significant, if marginal, change in the course of the Modern Movement--the eclipse of the free plan and a return to a direct modulation of space through structure."



Eisenman continues:
"There has unfortunately flourished, since the war, around the Modern Movement, a body of secondary literature which has tended not only to obscure some of the original ideas adherent to this movement, but also in some cases, in a search for an over-simplified version of history (and because of highly simplistic criteria of explanation), created an idealized picture of it--which can hardly be regarded as a representation of reality. Thus, Kenneth Frampton's article on Pierre Chareau's Maison de Verre, both in its style of presentation and its choice of material, can be seen as a break from this tradition. And while such a documentation of this building, as well as other canonical works of the Modern Movement, is long overdue as a contribution to the history of the recent past, it is the quality and scope of the documentation which commands our attention. Here is a set of precise, hard-line drawings, restrained, elegant, almost in the genre of the building itself, which certainly must establish a standard for such a presentation. But further, it is the abstract style of drawing in itself, the emphasis on plan, section, and axonometric view, which makes them useful for an analytical approach to the building. It is important to note that it was Frampton who had these drawings made in this particular manner; first because they probably did not exist, and second, because they present the building and the ideas inherent in it in a way that is not possible to retain, even when one is confronted with the actual fact."



Thirty-five years later Eisenman publishes Ten Canonical Buildings 1950-2000 (2008), where Louis I. Kahn's Adler and DeVore Houses are featured (which actually makes for a total of eleven canonical buildings within the book, but who's counting). Regarding the Adler and DeVore Houses:

"In the Adler and DeVore Houses of 1954-55, unlike in many of his other projects, Kahn achieves what could be considered an architectural text in diachronic space. This is brought about by the superposition of classical and modern space; that neither of these "times" dominates results in a dislocation of moments or, in other terms, a disjunction that is experienced in space. In the Adler and DeVore Houses, Kahn presents architecture both as a complex object and as the potential for the subject to experience the object as both a real space and an imaginary space. Both conditions are present and can be read, each in turn displacing the other. It is this unresolved moment in the Adler and DeVore Houses, which are themselves suspended in real time between the Trenton Bathhouse and the Richards Medical Center, that makes these two houses different from much of Kahn's other work. It is in the context of the denial of axial symmetries and part-to-whole relationships evident in much of Kahn's later work that these differences lie.
Thus the Adler and DeVore Houses can be seen to articulate an alternate internal logic: first, as a conscious, didactic proposal against the free plan of modern architecture, and second, as a critique of modern architecture."

To be precise, the Adler and DeVore Houses (1954-55) predate the Trenton Jewish Community Center Bathhouse (1956-57).

Eisenman continues:
"The hipped roofs of Kahn's Trenton Bathhouse, as well as its emphatic materiality, are clearly antecedents to the Adler and DeVore Houses, given that initial sketches of both houses similarly have hipped roofs. The Trenton Bathhouse is the first example in America of a massive brick and concrete structure denying the free plan and dynamic asymmetries of modernism with a classicizing nine-square plan. While only a small portion of the Trenton Bathhouse was built..."

Again, it is in fact the early hipped roofs schemes of the Adler and DeVore Houses that are antecedents to the Trenton Bathhouse, and, as built, the Trenton Bathhouse is complete. Eisenman confuses the Trenton Jewish Community Center Bathhouse with the much larger Trenton Jewish Community Center Community Building which was a wholly separate building design never executed.

When seen in (correct) chronological order and at the same scale, a number of Kahn designs, centering on the Adler and DeVore Houses, reveal a more interesting evolutionary development of the "eclipse of the free plan and a return to a direct modulation of space through structure."

Fruchter House 1952-53
Adler House 1954-55
DeVore House 1954-55
Trenton Jewish Community Center Bathhouse 1956-57
Trenton Jewish Community Center Day Care 1957
Goldenberg House 1959
Fisher House 1960-67

Also see the Patzau House and the White House.




15011103



2012.07.24 17:21
The Philadelphia School, deterritorialized
Excerpts from the interview with historian David Brownlee:
DB: In any case, what happens in the late '50's is a more palpable historical reference. There is the peculiarity of what I call the Philadelphia corner--the plan form that is sucked in at the corner--the diagonal across the corner (refers to Kahn's Goldenberg house and Venturi's beach house). They are both '59. Now I have to say, on the face of it, this (Goldenberg) is a lot more sophisticated looking design. But that element of design is seen in Mitchell Giurgola's work, and in Vreeland's work. That's a vocabulary that has gone around--it pops up in Kahn's work at this time--Kahn's dorm at Bryn Mawr, and the Richards Medical Building has it sort of implicitly--you enter off the diagonal of a corner…
SR: You see this corner treatment as something specifically about the Philadelphia School?
DB: I do. It all appears about the same time?
SR: Do you think anyone can be identified as being responsible for it? Does Venturi have a hand in it?
DB: I don't know. One of the things I would venture is to say that a more established architect like Kahn--with a formal vocabulary already established--may not be the place where you look for such provocative innovation. It certainly happens--but it is a teasing sort of thing. And another formal trait I see coming in at this time are, what I call another Philadelphia School trait, the big chimneys. They pop up out of the skyline in everybody's work about this time. Those would be places I would look for anything you can in terms of concretely dating 'who does what first.' I have found nothing written that acknowledges or even suggests that kind of influence between the two, having worked through the papers of both. There is not much to go on--Kahn, I think, writes a letter of recommendation for Rome. But that's about it. It has always been said that after the '60s Kahn expressed verbally his respect for Venturi, but said he was unwilling to 'go that far.' He did not follow Venturi's interest into Pop culture. Or, you know, large graphics. Or into the vocabulary of commerce and the strip. And fundamentally, I think, continued to believe in abstraction. He did not believe that buildings required words or intelligible historical references in order to be meaningful. At one point, he said that he 'liked ruins because in ruins the architectural forms had been detached from associated use." They had no denotative meaning left with them anymore, and in that sense continued to be an abstractionist, a modernist of that kind. The things that I see that I can plausibly say are the contributions are some of those stylistic--I won't call them quirks, but they are stylish bits and pieces--and within that, the broader acceptance of things that people could call 'historical' in his work. Now mind you, he was almost always hostile to the notion that anything he did had specific historical references. His willingness to talk about his fondness for history generally, and to speak admiringly of medieval and ancient buildings, never allowed you to draw a connection (that was pretty obvious) between these historical precedents and his work. Whereas Venturi, of course, was underlining that connection wherever possible. Certainly, the younger man's rhetorical style, in using those forms, did not rub off on Kahn at all. But I think the case is plausible that in the period of '54 to '58, as the Philadelphia School was coming together, that some of the distinctive features of it were created by people other than Louis Kahn--although Kahn gets to be their Guru.
Later...
DB: I find it hard to think of Kahn as a mannerist. But I… Maybe the Goldenberg house, which is almost unique; right where you expect the corner to be, there is nothing. [The corner deterritorialized!?]
And from the interview with Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown:
SR: Dr. Brownlee was talking about a couple of things he thinks of as being characteristic of the 'Philadelphia School.' One: big chimneys. The other: what he calls the 'Philadelphia corner.' The latter, I think he may have written about--how various architectural historical approaches 'solve the corner problem.' Is that ringing any bells for you?
RV: What does he mean by the corner? Big chimney--actually I think I may have possibly been influenced by Kahn to some extent, but I don't think he ever had a chimney like that. My beach house project, with its big high chimney--never built---horrified Vince Scully. But then also fascinated him at the same time.
DSB: You know, the diagonal was very much Philadelphia School.
RV: Yes. The diagonal. That's right, that diagonal. That, I got from Louis Kahn.
DSB: Well, I know where Lou Kahn got it. He got it from Team Ten. You know, in Europe, there was a lot of thinking about diagonals at that point. Lou had more influence from Team Ten earlier than has been generally recognized. I think I discovered how that happened, too. But that's another story. You know, the conference in Amsterdam in '59 he met Blag Valenca and Aldo Van Eyck. That's how Aldo Van Eyck eventually wound up coming to Penn. [The diagonal reterritorialized!?]

2012.03.25 10:23
Re: Traditional Architecture

Palladio, Piranesi, Kahn, Kahn, Kahn, Kahn
I have a feeling that the Stalinist Architecture Revival Style won't emerge until sometime in the 22nd century. I mean, it's just much too soon for such an ultra avant-garde to happen this century.
I suppose 1985 can no longer be considered contemporary, but] regarding "contemporary architects in classicism" see Stephen Kieran (of Kieran Timberlake) "The Image in the Empty Frame: Wu Hall and the Art of Representation."

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