Kahn, Louis Isadore

Kahn, Louis Isadore , kän [key], 1901–74, American architect, b. Estonia. He and his family moved to Philadelphia in 1905, and he later studied at the Univ. of Pennsylvania. From the 1920s through World War II, Kahn worked on numerous housing projects including Carver Court (1944), in Coatesville, Pa. He also planned the Yale Art Gallery (1953) and the American Federation of Labor Medical Building, Philadelphia. Kahn was widely acclaimed for his design of the Richards Medical Research Laboratories at the Univ. of Pennsylvania (1958–60). In this building he arrived at a new and dynamic integration of formal and functional elements, ingeniously relating mechanical services to the total architecture. Kahn eschewed the seemingly weightless International Style glass boxes of his time and created bold, dignified, sculptural, and sometimes brooding or harsh structures of massed stone. brick, and concrete. Most of his great buildings were created toward the end of his life. His notable later designs include the Salk Institute (1965), La Jolla, Calif., the former Olivetti-Underwood Corp. factory (1970), Harrisburg, Pa., the Phillips Exeter Academy Library (1971), Exeter, N.H., the Kimbell Art Museum (1972), Fort Worth, Tex., and the government complex (1983) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. One of the major architects of his time, he exerted wide influence over subsequent American architects as a professor at Yale (1947–57) and the Univ. of Pennsylvania (1957–74).

See his notebooks and drawings, ed. by R. S. Wurman and E. Feldman (1962) and writings, lectures, and interviews, ed. by A. Latour (1991); biographies by C. Wiseman (2007) and W. Lesser (2017); studies by V. Scully (1962), R. Giurgola (1975), P. C. Loud (1989), D. B. Brownlee and D. G. De Long (1991 and 1997), U. Buttiker (1994), K.-P. Gast (1999), K. Larson (2000), S. W. Goldhagen (2001), and R. Hughes (2015); N. Kahn, his son, dir., My Architect (documentary, 2003).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Architecture: Biographies