on louis kahn


‘Form is “what.” Design is “how:’ Form is impersonal. Design belongs to the designer…It is the role of design to adjust to the circumstantial.’

‘From all I have said I do not mean to imply a system of thought and work leading to realization from Form to Design. Designs could just as well lead to realizations in Form. This interplay is the constant excitement of Architecture.’

>> how Interesting and Manifesto-like everything Becomes with the Use of captial Letters!


a doodle of an ostrich form/design from an RIT student that i found on yahoo images

‘Reflect then on what characterizes abstractly House, a house, home. House is the abstract characteristic of spaces good to live in. House is the form, in the mind of wonder it should be there without shape or dimension. A house is a conditional interpretation of these spaces. This is design. In my opinion the greatness of the architect depends on his powers of realization of that which is House, rather than his design of a house which is a circumstantial act. Home is the house and the occupants. Home becomes different with each occupant.’

>> in design education, a.k.a. studio, i feel like ideas often stop at the ‘a house’ level. things rarely progress beyond that and delve into the ‘Home’ level. i guess it is probably rather difficult unless the designer is designing their own home or something for themselves as the ultimate user. so, is that the mark of a great architect?  one who is the best at plucking herself up from all of the preconceived notions of ‘hmm, what does the user want,’ discarding her previous identity and all if its implications, and instead, actually force herself to become the user, become the occupant, and design that way?


–quotes from the original text of Voice of America-Louis 1. Kahn. Recorded November 19, 1960.


One Response to “on louis kahn”

  1. I think it was Venturi who said in counter to Kahn

    “Less is more. Less is a bore”.

    Did I ever tell you I took a class on the Modern Movement in Architecture and my prof worked for Kahn? It was great! It was an early 8AM class, and it was Prof James Steele’s story time. I learned so many quirky things about Kahn (crazy guy!).

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