360 West 360 West March 2017 : Page 44

Architecture MONUMENTAL KAHN a A maquette represents the towering model that opens the exhibit. The city tower was proposed as an architectural structure in Louis Kahn’s adopted hometown of Philadelphia. Many of his early project designs revolved around urban renewal. Photo by Robert Laprelle The expansive tribute to Kahn’s architectural legacy makes clever use of 450 objects to tell the story of a man, his process and its results. By Babs Rodriguez s magnificent as the architecture of the Kimbell Art Museum’s Louis Kahn Building is, there is nothing intimidating about its form and no questioning its function. You’ll discover that those threads connect all of Kahn’s work when you take in the exhibit “Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture,” showing at the museum this spring and into early summer. Call us architecture geeks if you will, but we find meta excitement at the prospect of strolling through the first major retrospective of Kahn’s work in two decades while within the limestone walls and cycloid vaults of what is one of his globally acknowledged masterpieces. The museum is an iconic work that has settled into its environment as if it has always been Four Freedoms Park, a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt on Roosevelt Island in New York City, was dedicated in 2012. Kahn was carrying the finished plans when he died in 1974. Photo by Paul Warchol 44 March 2017 360westmagazine.com

Architecture

Babs Rodriguez

MONUMENTAL KAHN


A maquette represents the towering model that opens the exhibit. The city tower was proposed as an architectural structure in Louis Kahn’s adopted hometown of Philadelphia. Many of his early project designs revolved around urban renewal.

The expansive tribute to Kahn’s architectural legacy makes clever use of 450 objects to tell the story of a man, his process and its results.

As magnificent as the architecture of the Kimbell Art Museum’s Louis Kahn Building is, there is nothing intimidating about its form and no questioning its function.

You’ll discover that those threads connect all of Kahn’s work when you take in the exhibit “Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture,” showing at the museum this spring and into early summer. Call us architecture geeks if you will, but we find meta excitement at the prospect of strolling through the first major retrospective of Kahn’s work in two decades while within the limestone walls and cycloid vaults of what is one of his globally acknowledged masterpieces.



Four Freedoms Park, a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt on Roosevelt Island in New York City, was dedicated in 2012. Kahn was carrying the finished plans when he died in 1974.

The museum is an iconic work that has settled into its environment as if it has always been there. Inside, it soars and astounds without overwhelming. As welcoming to visitors as it is accommodating of the art it showcases, the museum is evidence of Kahn’s genius, all facets of which are explored in this thoughtful exhibition.



Louis Kahn working on Fisher House design in 1961

HIGHLIGHTS

• My Architect: A Son’s Journey, a documentary about Louis Kahn made by his son, Nathaniel Kahn, will be shown at the museum at select times during the exhibit.

• A collection of pastel sketches by Kahn is on loan from the personal collections of his three children. The artworks document his skill as an artist and illustrator and provide a window on the travel observations that influenced his work.

• Kahn’s datebook, opened to Oct. 4, 1972, notes the opening of the Kimbell Art Museum, which he attended.

• The design for a 12-foot-high model of the spectacular City Tower designed for Philadelphia (1952-57) draws from molecular structure.

• Video interviews with architects such as Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano (an apprentice of Kahn who designed the museum’s adjacent addition), Peter Zumthor and Sou Fujimoto play throughout the exhibit.



Kahn’s sketch of St. Peter’s in Rome, Louis Kahn, 1928-29

The show is designed by the Kimbell curators as an insight-filled stroll through six themed galleries: City, Science, Landscape, House, Eternal Present and Community. It reveals the open-eyed young man exploring the world who becomes the compulsive and dedicated craftsman, plus the influences of ancient history and modern life on his work. There are nods to the philosopher and studied observer of human nature here, and most surprising might be the glimpses into the master architect’s fascination with science. There are homes and synagogues, monuments and libraries, but the revelations that connect the dots between the architect’s philosophies regarding art, history, architecture and science — the origins and evolution of many of his themes — pull the visitor along, eliciting acclamations all the while. And did we mention all the examples of head-turning architecture?



Steven and Toby Korman House in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Louis Kahn, 1971–73

As you walk the exhibit, the themes and influences in Kahn’s work emerge from models, maquettes, drawings and everyday objects. His hand is frequently on view in the scaled renderings and sketches. His voice is heard in his writings. On view is the masterful ability to create massive constructs that are at once familiar (through archetypal and ancient motifs), astonishing (new uses of materials, the channeling of light) and revelatory (the intuitive understanding of the fine line between the monumental and the intimate). But the humanity within Kahn’s works might be the biggest reveal of all.

Using models he created, influential photos, pastel sketches and even postcards, the exhibit chronicles Kahn’s life and work somewhat chronologically with an overlay of those six prevalent themes. It’s an educational experience made to feel artful.



The Exeter Academy library in New Hampshire incorporates natural light in the reading carrels.

While you traverse the galleries, be sure to pause, look up to the soaring vaulted space and absorb the subtle, natural textures of the building materials, the translucency of the design, its openness to the movement of light. Note the museum’s perfection in its purpose as a backdrop for art. Remind yourself that it’s an unbelievable opportunity to enjoy such a carefully wrought exhibit within a building that so brilliantly displays all of its tenets.

Opened in 1972, the Kimbell is one of a relatively small number of works brought to fruition in Kahn’s lifetime, and because it’s one of the last completed, it feels only right that it should host such an important show. Kahn believed every building must find its own soul. This exhibit illuminates that process.

THE DETAILS

Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture

The major retrospective of the architect’s life work is organized by Germany’s Vitra Design Museum, in collaboration with the Architectural Archives of The University of Pennsylvania and the Netherlands Architecture Institute. It is on view in the Kimbell Art Museum’s Louis Kahn Building, along with the more intimate, “The Color of Light, The Treasury of Shadows: Pastels by Louis I. Kahn from the Collections of His Children.” This smaller exhibition will be shown only at the Kimbell and presents works created during three months in the ’50s when Kahn was architect in residence at the American Academy in Rome. While traveling during that time, he sketched the great historic monuments and public spaces of Italy, Greece and Egypt. Those seminal journeys proved to mold his thinking about form, structure and scale throughout his life. March 26-June 25. Tickets are free. 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-332-8451, kimbellart.org. Find times for showings of My Architect: A Son’s Journey on the website.

Read the full article at http://digital.360westmagazine.com/article/Architecture/2715542/385493/article.html.

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