Kahn, Louis I. (1901-74), architect
Born Estonia /
educated at U. Penn (1924) where he studied with Paul P. Cret /
independent practice from ca. 1932 on / AIA and RIBA gold medalist
click here for Wikipedia bio of Louis Kahn
Thesis on Kahn written in 2009 by Pierson William Booher while at the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania. It has great background on Kahn residential archicture with a focus on the Fisher.
Residential architecture of Louis Kahn in the Philadelphia area
Oser House 1940-1942
from The Architecural Forum August 1945
is rare when architect and client are lifelong friends and find that
they think alike on most questions that arise in the building of a
house.. But such was the case here, and the unity of design may well
have stemmed such mutual agreement.
site is a wooded slope in an estate recently opened for developement
near Philadelphia. The house has been placed to let the sun into the
windows of the principal rooms, and high enough to allow a basement
garage with a terrace level on the southern facade. Economy demended
that the plan be compact and the house two-stories high, but interior
spaciousness has been achieved by throwing many of the family funtions
together. The emphasis on outdoor living is expressed by the kitchen
door opening directly on the dinning terrace, and by the big outdoor
firplace on the terrace itself.
essentially box-like appearance of the house, inevitable where strict
economy dictates maximum cubage at minimum cost, is somewhat relieved
by the projecting living room deck.
Original Owner's Comment
We feel that to the architect goes all the credit for giving us a house
that cost no more than a ready made design, yet one that met our tastes
Roche House 1947-1949
This home is similar to other new post war ranch style homes being built at the time
Weiss 1947-1950 AIA gold medal winner
This home is at the
beginning of Kahn's use of materials to help define the structure. The
checkerboard widow pattern could be adjusted with the large panels
sliding up and down in the living room wing. The home has a 'bi
nuclear' floor plan with the bedrooms well segregated from the
This home incorporates cedar and stone in a unique design.
The home is built as a
series of pods. The Kahn collection at the Archives at the University
of PA found on the PAB website show the various arrangements considered
Greenbelt Knoll project 1956
Kahn was involved in
the overall design of the preoject of 16 homes, but the firm Montgomery
& Bishop were responsible for the details of the plan. Each of the
16 homes had the same original floor plan.
Barlow Residence of Greenbelt Knoll photos 2010 in original 1957 condition, including original kitchen and bath.
Louis Kahn said that his work as an architect is
"the sum of all my works." The noted Yale professor Vincent
Scully, an early champion of Kahn's work, wrote that Kahn was "gifted
in every imaginable way, most of all as musician and painter."
Kahn's greatness as an architect is a measure of the richness and quality
of his gifts and experience.
house he designed for Margaret Esherick, niece of sculptor Wharton Esherick,
at 204 Sunrise Lane is one of few residential commissions that were
actually built. His spirit and guiding hand touch those who live there.
The size of the windows and their carefully considered placement fill
the house with light that is choreographed by the time of day and the
described the many considerations that went into its design. "Beauty
and logic" were two. They form a house that is clean, direct, and
warm. The warmth is created, in part, by the richness and variety of
the wood, within and without?in the cypress shutters, the teak
bookcases, the oak wall in the living room, and the rough oak beam supporting
setting made its own contribution to its design. The house has two faces,
which "suggest two different houses." The street side is private
and the back opens to Pastorius Park.
was an element, too, along with "the desires of the client."
He added, "A building reaches excellence when the client knows
what she wants, and the architect knows how to interpret it."
interior photos of the Esherick
Steve Korman was turned down by Kahn multiple times prior to accepting finally accepting this commission. In 1971 Kahn was working on some of his larger well known commissions at the time but agreed to work with Mr. Korman on weekends due to his busy schedule. They did meet often over the next two years. Kahn was asked for rooms big enough to play football in, and for a home with a great indoor outdoor connection. The home is now lived in by one of his sons and his family, maintained in incredible condition.
Index to MODERN HOMES PHILADELPHIA History Pages
Overview of Philadelphia Area Mid-Century Modern Residential Architecture (below on this page) Photo overview followed by brief written overview of Philadelphia mid-century architects .
Time Line of area modern homes from 1930's to today Mid-Century Modern Homes
Architects Who Designed Mid-Century Modern Homes in the Philadelphia Region
photographs of the regional homes designed by each architect are included