November 13, 2013
The Houses of Louis Kahn and Korman House in The New York Times
“The Homey Side of Louis Kahn,” Alexandra Lange Q+A with George Marcus
“A new book, ‘The Houses of Louis Kahn’ (Yale University Press, $65), provides an architectural bridge between the personal and the professional stories, focusing on the nine houses Kahn completed, and designs for two dozen more. The story told by the authors, George H. Marcus and William Whitaker, is one of warm client relations, attention to the smallest domestic detail and a philosophical search for the best arrangement of rooms to call home.”
Excerpt from the interview:
Marcus: We believe that the whole search in his design of houses is for the idea of home. Kahn had never had a home. He was an immigrant, he came from Estonia when he was about 5, and he had 11 addresses between the time he entered elementary school and the time he entered high school. When he married, he and wife, Esther, moved into his wife’s family home. It was only supposed to be for a short time, but they lived there for 37 years.
His daughter Sue Ann talked in an interview about his idea of home as something that wasn’t achievable for him. She described it as an outsider looking in and seeing “a woman cooking over a stove, a happy family and with the light glowing.” It was a happy family he could never have, particularly as a man with three concurrent families.
Lange: Did he turn that idea into architecture?
Marcus: He really achieved it in the Korman House. The kitchen and dining room are almost a separate pavilion, with large glass windows. On the cover of the book you see that room in a picture taken at dusk, with the light glowing. No other house puts the kitchen and dining area on display that way.