1972 - Louis I Kahn (1901-1974)

Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Designer: Kahn, Louis Isidore (1901-1974)
Copyright: Danielle Tinero/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (2004)

Louis Kahn emigrated to the United States at the age of four with his parents. He studied at the Architecture School of the University of Pennsylvania before qualifying in 1924. Prior to travelling in Europe in the late 1920s, Kahn was articled to John Molitor.


During the depression of the late 1930s, Kahn formed the Architectural Research Group of 30 architects and engineers who planned housing, slum clearance and city redevelopment schemes for the City of Philadelphia Planning Commission.


Kahn established his own practice in 1935 but still maintained his links with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, working as their consultant architect. He was also appointed as consultant architect to the US Housing Authority in 1939.


Kahn’s most influential work was the Richards Medical Research building at the University of Pennsylvania (1957-61). Other work includes the Salk Institute, California (1965); the Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India (1963); the Kimbell Art Museum, Forth Worth (1972); and the Yale Centre for British Art (1974).


Yale Centre for British Art

Designer: Kahn, Louis Isidore (1901-1974)
Copyright: Nathan Monger/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (c1999)

From 1947-57, Kahn taught at the School of Architecture at Yale University, and then took a more leading role as Professor of the University of Pennsylvania, whilst continuing his own practice.

Kahn died bankrupt but not forgotten, and today is highly esteemed in the United States.

'Three things stand out in particular. First, in the presence of this teacher, you are in the presence of some wind that blows through him as of were the agent of some more deep and natural force; second, the way in which he keeps talking about 'beginnings'; thirdly, he is, I think, deeply religious - like a pagan'.