The Power of Architecture: Louis Kahn

Louis Kahn is amazing at merging architectural modernism with ancient elements without losing the innovation of contemporary design.

His interest in symmetry draws the viewers eye to the centre of his design and beyond. He is a master at playing with light and shadow. The Salk Institute fountain above aligns with the sun at both the autumnal and vernal equinox. Khan's symmetry makes space for ancient world balance, and focus in our lives. It is a reminder that we are part of a larger existence. Perhaps that is why I am drawn to his work. 

He was a monumental architect, he looked to civilizations past for inspiration. After a trip to Rome he wrote, “I finally realize that the architecture of Italy will remain as the inspirational source of the works of the future…those who don’t see it that way ought to look again. Our stuff looks tiny compared to it.” There was always a clear reference in his work to the ancient buildings he admired.

When he died in 1974 he was one of the most celebrated architects in the United States, and to this day he has remained deeply influential on restoring beauty back into architecture. -tM

Photography: Unknown

Connections

Architecture: Sir Edward Lutyens | Liverpool Cathedral, 1962

Have you ever looked out the window at the architecture around you, and depending on the light of the sky,  the positioning of the clouds, and the temperament of the weather itself, made you feel like you were taken back to a particular time and in place in life?

That is what happened to me this morning. I couldn't stop looking at these two very tall brown, 1960's apartment buildings, emphasized by the sun in spotlight, taking me back to my childhood of the 70's. I was momentarily reminded of the smell of my mother's cooking on a late Sunday afternoon, of all of the busted up bleeding knees that kissed the concrete too many times, of holding and feeling the strength of my father's hand, to walking by the hardware store and knowing I was in the right place because it also had a distinct smell. And that was me, my life, remembered and surrounded by tall apartment buildings as a kid growing up in a city that was growing with me.

Architecture of the past really is like putting a pause on a piece of music you are listening to. It is a significant part of the whole that becomes the fabric of our city, a link to our past, and a movement toward our future. -tM

"The sun never knew how great it was until it hit the side of a building." Louis Kahn