A Look at Louis Kahn: SDMA retrospective celebrates famed Modernist architect


Louis Kahn, a name most of us know as the designer of the Salk Institute, is considered one of the major forces in 20th-century architecture. A new exhibition coming to San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park, Saturday, Nov. 5 will show the evolution of his work, including models, sketches and photos of his most important projects, filmed interviews with Kahn and some of the architects he influenced, and rarely-seen watercolors, pastels and drawings he made on his world travels that show he was a skilled artist, too.

“Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture” is the first retrospective of Kahn’s work in more than 20 years. Originating at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany four years ago, it has traveled to Rotterdam, Oslo, London, Taipei, and Bellevue, Washington, since then. At SDMA, it will be accompanied by a showing of photographs of the Salk Institute, taken by students from the Woodbury University School of Architecture in Barrio Logan.

“Kahn is really a subject of global interest,” said Ariel Plotek, SDMA’s Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art. “What we know of his completed buildings is just a small part of his production. Even the ones that never got built have exercised their influence over other architects, particularly the Philadelphia City Tower, one part of his proposed plan for redesigning the downtown center of his adopted city, which has pride of place in the exhibition.”

Besides the 13-foot model of the City Tower, there are more than 200 objects on view in “Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture,” including selected works from the Kahn family’s private collections and the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania. The exhibit, on view through January, is a chance to get up close and personal with a visionary who was truly one of a kind.

IF YOU GO: “Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture,” will be on exhibit Nov. 5-Jan. 3 at San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park, San Diego. Adult admission: $15. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Exhibit-related events: Musical Art Stop, a 30-minute concert by San Diego Youth Symphony, inspired by the exhibit (included with admission) 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13. Culture & Cocktails: The Power of Architecture, 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17, admission $5-$35, pre-purchase recommended. Tickets: (619) 232-7931.