The Life, Influence, and Works of Architect Louis I Kahn.

Essay by JustinEatWorld1High School, 10th gradeA+, December 2005

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For one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, Louis Kahn created very few buildings. However the few he did complete are so remarkably expressive and innovative that his work is considered to be an inspired great progression from the International Style and he is hailed as one of the greatest architects of the 20th century.

Louis I. Kahn was born in Estonia, Russia in 1901 to a mother who stayed at home and an artisan father who, despite being Jewish, worked in stained glass for churches. When he was 2 years old, he was near his fathers work area when he grabbed a burning coal because the light it emitted fascinated him. This burned his hands and face, making scars he would carry for the rest of his life. In 1904, he and his family immigrated to the United States.

In his new home in Pennsylvania, Kahn was often made fun of by other children for his scars.

He was often rejected by these children, and turned to art as an escape. His teachers noticed his natural ability for drafting, and got him painting lessons. After winning many all-city art competitions, Kahn discovered his passion for architecture. After graduating high school, Kahn turned down a full arts scholarship from a prestigious university in order to attend the architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania. It is here where he developed his passion for unique use of light in buildings. While at U. Penn, Kahn won a bronze medal in the Arthur Spayd Brooke Memorial Prize.

After graduating from U. Penn, Kahn entered the office of John Molitor as senior draftsman on the design of the 1926 Sesquicentennial buildings. After the completion of the buildings, Kahn left the office. In 1928, he traveled to Europe to study the...