The American architect Louis Kahn (1901–1974), designer of the Kimbell Art Museum, is regarded as one of the great master builders of the 20th century. With complex spatial compositions and a choreographic mastery of light, Kahn created buildings of archaic beauty and powerful universal symbolism. In addition to the Kimbell (1966-72), his most important works include the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California (1959–65), the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh (1962–83). The exhibition Louis Kahn. The Power of Architecture, organized by Vitra Design Museum (Weil am Rhein, Germany), is the first major retrospective of Kahn's work in two decades.
The exhibition encompasses an unprecedented and diverse range of architectural models, original drawings, 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 in New York City (1973/74), posthumously completed in October 2012. The view of Kahn's architectural oeuvre is augmented by a selection of watercolors, pastels and charcoal drawings created during his travels, which document his skill as an artist and illustrator. Highlights of the exhibition include a 12-foot-high model of the spectacular City Tower designed for Philadelphia (1952–57), as well as previously unpublished film footage shot by Nathanial Kahn, the son of Louis Kahn and director of the film My Architect. Interviews with architects such 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.
This exhibition was organized by the Vitra Design Museum, Germany, in collaboration with the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania and the Netherlands Architecture Institute, part of the New Institute, Rotterdam. The exhibition is globally sponsored by Swarovski. Additional support is provided by The Beck Group.