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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

8-29-05

Contacts:

Thomas Leslie, Architecture, (515) 294-8460

Heather Sauer, College of Design Communications, (515) 294-9289

Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778

ISU architecture professor's book examines influential buildings by Louis I. Kahn

AMES, Iowa -- One of the most influential architects of the late 20th century, Louis I. Kahn, produced some of the era's most significant buildings known mainly for their aesthetics. However, a new book by an Iowa State University assistant professor of architecture takes a fresh approach to Kahn's work.

In "Louis I. Kahn: Building Art, Building Science," Thomas Leslie looks at four of Kahn's buildings in depth -- the Yale Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn. (1951); the Richards Medical Laboratories, Philadelphia, Penn. (1961); the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, Calif. (1967); and the Kimball Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas (1972).

Distinguished by design that is stark yet grand, Kahn's work is recognized as a transition between modern and classical architectural traditions. Leslie shows that Kahn's work also demonstrates a unique synthesis of building art and science. Leslie's book demonstrates Kahn was a technologist, interested in integrating advanced engineering, material science and environmental technology into his buildings.

"Critics have consistently praised Kahn's buildings as links between modernism and the timeless qualities of historic classical architecture in spaces that are poetic and spiritually resonant," Leslie said.

"Kahn's buildings also were relentlessly technological and his collaborations with engineers and contractors reveal that his designs sprang from a consistent attempt to tell the story of his building's conception and construction," he said.

Leslie claims that Kahn was a forefather to the so-called high-tech school of architecture, inspiring figures such as Renzo Piano (architect of the Pompidou Center, Paris) and Norman Foster (architect of the Reichstag Dome, Berlin, and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Hong Kong). Leslie was an associate in Foster's office from 1993 to 2000.

"Kahn's buildings have rarely been linked to this group, yet my research demonstrates his influence was profound," Leslie said.

Leslie spent three years researching the architect's work, which included documenting and analyzing construction drawings and correspondence in the Kahn Archives at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

The 200-page book includes previously unpublished drawings, construction photographs and sketches. It was published in July by Braziller, New York, and is available in hardcover and paperback.

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Quick look

In his new book, "Louis I. Kahn: Building Art, Building Science," Thomas Leslie looks at four of Kahn's buildings in depth, finding that they demonstrate a unique synthesis of building art and science.

Quote

"Kahn's buildings also were relentlessly technological and his collaborations with engineers and contractors reveal that his designs sprang from a consistent attempt to tell the story of his building's conception and construction."

Thomas Leslie, assistant professor of architecture