Last night I went to see the movie My Architect. Friends of ours, one of whom is an architect, loved the film. The other is in the film business so the recommendation was up there. I am really glad that we saw it.
The movie is about a son’s quest to discover and get to know his father. His father happened to be Louis Kahn, one of the best architect’s of our time. Louis Kahn also happened to have 2 children out of wedlock while being married and having a child in his marriage. So, he has 3 children, 2 girls and a boy. Nathaniel Kahn, this first-time documentarist, is his son. He was 11 when his father died.
Louis Kahn died of a heart attack in Penn Station, flat broke.
Louis Kahn was a nomad in many respects. He was all work. He started to make a true name for himself by the time he was 50 years old. He wanted to leave his mark on architecture with buildings that would remain forever as the pyramids have in Eygpt.
Nathaniel interviews other famed architects through out the film that knew his father. I.M. Pei, Stern, Gehry, Philip Johnson to name a few. He also interviews people that worked for his father at his firm. The people that ran his projects. Each interview gives you an interesting insight into Louis Kahn.
He tracks his roots from architectual books but also speaks to his 2 mistresses (one who is his mother). They both loved him actually treasured him. Neither of them ever got married.
The most interesting part of the film was Nathaniel’s travels to each of his father’s buildings. Louis Kahn was not only an architect but he was an artist. His buildings are unbelievable in size and detail. Outside they look like big concrete structures but the beauty is within the building. The Kimbell Art Museum in Texas, takes your breath away. But the true icing on the cake, is the capital in Bagladesh. The last building that he was commissioned to do. Not only is it a work of art, it actually works. The tug of war between good architecture is one on hand you have a piece of art but on the other hand, the building must flow and be used daily in an intelligent way otherwise the building’s beauty if a waste.
Louis Kahn was not able to get the amount of projects that he would have liked. That is probably why he died broke. His true genius was more than likely hard to work with.
Although, I.M. Pei said it best in the film when he said that for architects, it is not the quantity but the quality. If you can just build one or two masterpieces, then you have made your mark.
Architects are a rare breed.