A way with bricks – Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture

As the month-long London Festival of Architecture drew to a close, the Design Museum in Shad Thames unveiled its homage to one of the most influential and important architects of a generation – Louis Kahn.

The Caro Communications team was in attendance at the opening of Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture, a show that examines an architect although little known to the wider general public, has influenced countless architects to this day. And nowhere is this more evident than in a series of interviews on show by Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Peter Zumthor and Sou Fujimoto.

A far cry from the standard architectural exhibition display of models and photographs, visitors learn about Kahn ‘the man’ –  including his curious penchant for talking to bricks. Kahn was a different kind of architect, one that carried his drawings around in his inside jacket pocket, had more families than normally deemed appropriate (two too many to be exact) and who tragically, died bankrupt.

Greeted by photographs of projects on a breathtaking scale, as well as models and drawings the show manages to outline Kahn’s creative process to visitors. His most prominent projects across the globe are all included, such as the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, or the show-stopping interiors of the Phillips Exeter Academy Library in New Hampshire, USA. The latter displays some the best internal architecture ever constructed, as large concrete circle voids expose a network of staircases and balconies behind. The Four Freedoms Park in New York – a monumental structure on the East River – also features, and even though it is a design completed posthumously (40 years after the architect’s death) it remains true to Kahn’s original vision.

National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Louis Kahn © Raymond Meier

National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Louis Kahn © Raymond Meier

The only problem, as with all great architecture exhibitions, is that the show instils an unswerving urge in one to visit Dhaka, New Hampshire and New York to experience these buildings in the flesh. This is somehow apt, as although the show succeeds in going a long way towards explaining the background of the design and construction of these projects, it’s probable Kahn would have wanted us to see his structures in situ – and maybe speak to a few beams and arches ourselves.

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

Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture runs at the Design Museum, Shad Thames until October 14th.