The American architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974) is regarded as one of the great master builders of the twentieth century. Kahn created buildings of archaic beauty and powerful universal symbolism, with complex spatial compositions, an elemental formal vocabulary and a choreographic mastery of light. Numbering among his most important works are the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California (1959- 65), the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas (1966-72), the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad (1962-74) and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh (1962-83).
As the first retrospective on Louis Kahn in over two decades, this exhibition encompasses an unprecedented and diverse range of architectural models, original drawings, travel sketches, photographs and films. All of Kahn’s important projects are extensively documented — from his early urban planning concepts and single-family houses to monumental late works such as the Roosevelt Memorial (1973-74), which was posthumously completed in October 2012.
Highlights of the exhibition include a four-metre-high model of the spectacular City Tower designed for Philadelphia (1952-57), as well as previously unseen film footage shot by Nathaniel Kahn, director of the film ‘My Architect’.
The view of Kahn’s architectural oeuvre is augmented by a selection of travel sketches, which shed new light on his activity as an artist. Interviews with such architects as Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Peter Zumthor and Sou Fujimoto underscore the current significance of Kahn’s work, which is being rediscovered and made accessible to a wide public audience with this exhibition.
In conjunction with the exhibition ‘Louis Kahn — The Power of Architecture’, the Vitra Design Museum is organising an extensive programme of events featuring such guests as Nathaniel Kahn, Charlie Koolhaas, Doshi Levien, Studio Mumbai and many others. From 1st February to 26th May 2013, an exhibition of works by the German photographer Thomas Florschuetz will be shown in the Vitra Design Museum Gallery. The exhibition presents large-format photos of buildings by Louis Kahn, Oscar Niemeyer’s Brasilia, and the Neues Museum and Palast der Republik in Berlin.
The exhibition is a cooperation of the Vitra Design Museum, the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and the Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam.