Lectures & Literary past

Louis Kahn 120 Celebration with Harriet Pattison, Nathaniel Kahn and William Whitaker

Sat—2-20-2021
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SAT—February 20—1 PM ET

On February 20, join us for an online celebration of the American architect Louis Kahn, who was born 120 years ago on this day in Estonia. In this program, see a discussion with some of the people closest to Kahn: distinguished landscape architect Harriet Pattison; her son, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn; and William Whitaker, Curator, The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania Stewart Weitzman School of Design.

The program will include a discussion of Pattison’s new book Our Days Are Like Full Years, (Yale University Press, 2020; ASF Members receive a 25% discount by using the code YEDFY), in which she recounts her passionate and sometimes searing 15-year relationship with Kahn. Married and 27 years her senior, Kahn sent her scores of letters—many from far-flung places—until his untimely death. This book weaves together Pattison’s own story with letters, postcards, telegrams, drawings, and photographs that reveal Kahn’s inner life and his architectural thought process, including new insight into some of his greatest works, both built and unbuilt. What emerges is at once a poignant love story and a vivid portrait of a young woman striving to raise a family while forging an artistic path in the shadow of her famous partner.

The event will also include the premiere of an eight minute film by Maria Juur and Nick Malkin, Jersey Homesteads: Louis Kahn and Small Town Modernism (2021), commissioned for the Kahn 120 celebration. This film presents the story of Roosevelt, NJ, a utopian suburb designed by Kahn.

The event will take place as a Zoom webinar; please register at the link above. A Q&A will follow the discussion; please share questions in the chat or email them to info@amscan.org.

“Part memoir, part collection of letters, part architecture treatise, and part love story, Harriet Pattison’s Our Days Are Like Full Years takes you inside the architect Louis Kahn’s mind and, even more, inside his heart. This is the saga of a devil’s bargain with a saint, and it is at once poignant and triumphant. Pattison has written a magnificent book, filled with warmth, elegance, insight, and grace”— Paul Goldberger

*This event has now ended. Stream the full video in the link below.*

The program is organized by Consulate General of Estonia in New York in partnership with Louis Kahn Estonia Foundation, and presented by Scandinavia House in New York  in partnership with Yale University Press.

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About the Speakers

Nathaniel Kahn is an award-winning filmmaker. His documentary My Architect, about his father, Louis I. Kahn, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003 as well as being nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards and an Emmy. Kahn also won the 2004 Directors Guild of America award for outstanding direction of a documentary. Kahn has also made several films on science including Telescope (2015) and Dark Side of the Sun (2016) for Discovery. He is currently at work on a feature-length documentary on the Webb Space Telescope as well as a new screenplay, which he will direct. In 2018 Kahn directed the HBO documentary The Price of Everything about the exponential sums paid for works on the Contemporary art market. Nathaniel Kahn’s mother is landscape architect Harriet Pattison.

Harriet Pattison, FASLA,  is a distinguished landscape architect. She was Louis Kahn’s romantic partner from 1959 to 1974, and his collaborator on the landscapes of the Kimball Art Museum, Fort Worth, and the F.D.R. Memorial/Four Freedoms Park, New York. She is the mother of their son, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn. Her distinguished 40-year career is documented in the Harriet Pattison Collection at the Architectural Archives of Pennsylvania University, and was the subject of a 2016 exhibition at the Kroiz Gallery of the Architectural Archives entitled Harriet Pattison: Gardens and Landscapes. In 2016 she was inducted as a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

William Whitaker is curator of the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design. He is coauthor (with George Marcus) of The Houses of Louis Kahn. Trained as an architect at Penn and the University of New Mexico, Whitaker works most closely with the archival collections of Louis I. Kahn, Lawrence Halprin, and the partnership of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, in support of teaching, scholarship, preservation, and public engagement. He has co-curated over forty exhibitions including Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966-71 (Graham Foundation), Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry (Graham Foundation and Penn’s ICA), and, most recently, Design With Nature Now (with the McHarg Center) – a major program of exhibitions, conference, and public programs that highlight the dynamic and visionary approaches to landscape design and development in the face of climate change and global urbanization. He is project director for What Minerva Built, an exhibition project focused on America’s first independent female architect, Minerva Parker Nichols.

 
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