My interest with architect Louis Kahn began with the documentary on his life by his son Nathaniel “My Architect” (available here), and the after writing about the movie a few months ago (check it out here), I finally purchased the film on DVD from a local Blockbuster (yes, they’re still around…although this location was closing). Anyways,the video above shows Louis Kahn lecturing to a group of graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 about the importance of having respect for your building materials. Don’t worry, just because Mr. Kahn is recounting a conversation he had with a brick, doesn’t mean he’s crazy. Maybe.
The bottom-line of the discussion was that Louis Kahn strongly believed that every materials had its own distinct destiny, never deviating from it to be something it shouldn’t be. His architecture was considered heavily symbolic, influenced by nature, and overly reverenced of past buildings, and was looked unfavorably on due to modernism’s clean, straight-edged materials and aesthetics. But let’s return to Kahn’s “obsession” with bricks; Kahn’s structures are often considered as “ruins in reverse” (in his words), such as expansive and hollow brick shells with huge geometrical cut-out areas.