American architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974) is regarded as one of the great master builders of the twentieth century. He created buildings of archaic beauty and powerful universal symbolism, with complex spatial compositions, an elemental formal vocabulary and a choreographic mastery of light. London’s Design Museum is paying tribute to Kahn’s extraordinary oeuvre with a great retrospective show.

Numbering among his most important works are the Salk Institute, the Kimbell Art Museum and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. As the first retrospective on Louis Kahn in over two decades, this exhibition encompasses an unprecedented and diverse range of architectural models, original drawings, travel sketches, photographs and films.

All of Kahn’s important projects are extensively documented — from his early urban planning concepts and single-family houses to monumental late works such as the Roosevelt Memorial, which was posthumously completed in October 2012. Highlights of the exhibition include a four-metre-high model of the spectacular City Tower designed for Philadelphia, as well as previously unseen film footage shot by Nathaniel Kahn, director of the film ‘My Architect’. The view of Kahn’s architectural oeuvre is augmented by a selection of travel sketches, which shed new light on his activity as an artist.

Interviews with such architects as Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Peter Zumthor and Sou Fujimoto underscore the current significance of Kahn’s work, which is being rediscovered and made accessible to a wide public audience with this exhibition.

Original drawings and sketches, historic and newly constructed models, photographs and films in which contemporary architects shed light on Kahn’s pivotal role in the discipline of architecture, will be presented. The exhibition will also include a series of extraordinary watercolours recording Kahn’s travels through North America, Europe and Egypt.

Louis Kahn
09 July – 12 October 2014
Design Museum