Born in 1901, on the Isle of Osel, Estonia; Louis Isidore Kahn became one of the most well known architects in the 20th century. In 1905, he and his parents, Leopold Kahn and Bertha Kahn, moved to Philadelphia. After high school, Kahn studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.
After graduating in 1924, Kahn worked for several architects. He traveled all over Europe while working for Paul Philippe Cret, and took great interest in Greek and Roman architecture. He was also a consultant for housing authorities and planning commissions. In 1930, he married Esther Virginia Israeli. Kahn was noted as a philosopher, teacher and designer. From 1947 to 1957, he was a professor of architecture at Yale University. He got his first major project - the Yale University Art gallery - in 1952, when he was 50. Then from 1957 to 1974, he was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1974, he died.
Kahn incorporated some of the techniques of other architects and styles, and with them created his own style. His sense of order came from the beaux-arts and the idea of sparsely decorated architecture from Mies and Le Corbusier. From Sullivan and Wright, he adopted organic architecture, showing the inner essence of the structure. He was also influenced by Greek and Roman architecture.
Kahn thoroughly thought out his plan for a building before starting it. He planned out the geometry of the structure to best withstand the climate of the area, and fit in with the culture and other buildings. He estimated the space needed on the inside, and formatted the building to work well for the intended use. In many of his buildings, Kahn created a clear distinction between "served and servant spaces." "Served" spaces being offices, laboratories, elevators, and other places where people would be. "Servant" spaces were ventilation systems, storage rooms, lights, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems, and other things that are essential for a building to function properly.
In some of his earlier buildings (Yale Art Gallery, and Richards Medical Research Laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania), he exposed the air ducts and lighting fixtures in the ceiling. His use of materials and organization of space helped to make him internationally famous. Another part of Kahn's style was his windows. He used them as a source of light in some of his later buildings: Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas; and the Yale Center for British Art and Studies. He designed his windows not to be blinding, and to have space to sit by them as if you were in a separate room. He achieved that by building side walls on both sides of the window.
Some of Kahn's most famous building include: the Yale Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut (1952-1954); the Richards Medical Research Building, in Philadelphia (1957-1961); the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California (1959-1965); the National Assembly Hall (and many other buildings in the city) in Dacca, Bangladesh (1962-1974); the Phillips Academy Library at Exeter, New Hampsire (1967-1972); the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas (1966-1972); and the Yale Center for British Art and Studies in New Haven Connecticut (1969-1974).
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