Pardon the lateness of this announcement, but this evening at 6PM the AIA Center For Architecture will be having a screening of My Architect, an excellent film about the great Louis Kahn by his son, Nathaniel.
Obviously Kahn is among the handful of very greatest 20th Century architects, and he has a little bit of a Portland connection. Thomas Hacker, head of Thomas Hacker Architects, got his start in Kahn's office. As it happens, I happened to talk with Hacker about his time in Kahn's office recently for an article I'm working on. He stressed the interweaving of teaching and professional practice, and the need to be constantly searching in one's work for new ideas and solutions.
I also had the good fortune to interview Nathaniel Kahn for Willamette Week when his documentary came out in 2004. Here's some of that interview/profile:
With San Diego's Salk Institute, Fort Worth, Texas' Kimbell Art Museum and the capital building in Bangladesh among his distinguished credits, Louis Kahn is easily among the foremost American architects of the 20th century.
But Kahn was certainly no saint. And to his son Nathaniel, he was always an elusive figure. The elder Kahn fathered Nathaniel with a mistress, and his visits were sporadic. "It's the story of a son's search to know his father," the filmmaker said.
As both director and quasi-emcee, the younger Kahn manages to scrutinize his father's compromised personal life--he fathered children with three different women--while never exploiting Louis Kahn's dirty laundry. We meet the cab drivers who shuttled the architect from home to office to affair, as well as the women and children who made up his different families, contrasting with the reverence his architecture inspires. "The human imperfections are part of what makes him a man to me," Kahn says. "They're what make him someone I'd want to know."
More than five years in the making, My Architect also includes interviews with architects and critics, such as Frank Gehry and Phillip Johnson, who elucidate the architectural significance of Louis Kahn's buildings. Kahn was part of a generation that made Modernism the signature form of world design. But unlike many of his contemporaries, such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier or Alvar Aalto, Kahn eschewed futuristic metal and glass edifices in favor of more spiritual, enduring forms and materials. The pyramids of Egypt were his inspiration, not Tomorrowland. "He asked, 'How do I make a modern building that has all of the majesty and solidity and mystery of an ancient building or ruin?'" the director explains. "He wanted to return some of the magic and presence that you find in ancient buildings."
If you can't make it to tonight's screening (what with the two-hour notice and all), keep the Center For Architecture in mind for more events in the future than were probably happening at the old location.