Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Lou

March 17th was the birthday of Louis Kahn, the great architect featured in the film, My Architect. Though I never met him, Lou has been one of my mentors. He looked into soul of architecture and saw its vital connections to shaping human experience. For Lou, a door wasn't just a way to get through a wall. It was an event of transition, making the passage from one world to another. Lou's buildings could break new ground, but his words inspired generations of architects. Here are some examples:

"A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed and in the end must be unmeasurable."

"To express is to drive. And when you want to give something presence, you have to consult nature. And there is where Design comes in."

"All material in nature, the mountains and the streams and the air and we, are made of Light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass called material casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light."

Mostly unappreciated in his own town of Philadelphia, Lou found clients that understood his soulful approach to architecture half way around the world in Banglahdesh. When designing this Muslim country's capital buildings, Lou was asked to include a small room for prayer in an out  of the way corner. Lou made the prayer room 30,000 square feet and placed it at the entry to the legislature chambers. Lou said that if the government officials spent time in prayer before carrying out their work they might act with more wisdom. 

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