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The Notebooks and Drawings of Louis I. Kahn Facsimile Now on Kickstarter

An exact copy of the architect’s long-unavailable 60-year-old book accompanied by a new, illustrated Reader’s Guide.

By Steve Kroeter and Stephanie Salomon February 17, 2021

Originally published in 1962 and out of print for almost 50 years, The Notebooks and Drawings of Louis I. Kahn was the first book on influential 20th-century American architect Louis I. Kahn (1901–74) to feature his own images and words — and the first to capture the modern master’s powerful and unique spirit.

 

The Notebooks and Drawings of Louis I. Kahn by Richard Saul Wurman and Eugene Feldman (1962, Falcon Press; 1973, MIT Press; 2021 Designers & Books), right | Reader’s Guide (Designers & Books, 2021), left  

To make this elegant and important book available again, and in honor of Kahn’s 120th birthday this February, we are reissuing it in a new facsimile edition (an exact reproduction), along with an all-new companion Reader’s Guide, which includes additional visual material, much of it previously unpublished.

Notebooks and Drawings was the brainchild and passion project of a then 25-year-old Richard Saul Wurman, a former student of Louis Kahn, then age 59, who employed him in his Philadelphia office. Wurman (acclaimed today as one of the first practicing information architects, and founder of the renowned TED Conference), asked to select all the drawings and texts for the book. To his surprise, Kahn agreed. “I didn’t choose what were considered his best, most finished drawings,” Wurman says today. “I chose those that spoke to me—much in the same way that Lou would say you had a conversation with the building . . . the drawings that told me what they were trying to be.”

Wurman worked closely on the book with experimental printer Eugene Feldman, who pioneered the use of offset lithography as a fine-art form. “I wanted the spirit of Lou—I wanted a book of him,” adds Wurman. As a result, the two created a book that expresses Kahn’s creative process in a way that has been unequaled.

Richard Saul Wurman and Eugene Feldman’s Notebooks and Drawings of Louis I. Kahn was the first book devoted to my father’s art, and he loved it.

— Nathaniel Kahn, son of architect Louis Kahn and the director of the Academy Award-nominated film about his father, My Architect.

 

 

Pages of travel sketches from The Notebooks and Drawings of Louis I. Kahn . Photo: Lauren Renner 
 
 
 

In addition to his architectural designs from the 1950s and ’60s, the book features drawings and sketches Kahn made during his travels to Egypt, Greece, and Italy, places that inspired the architect’s interest in monumental forms. He would go on to interpret these forms for a modern age in such works as the Salk Instutute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California (1959–65).

 

 

1962 Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, California, laboratory elevation studies, charcoal on yellow tracing paper. From the original Notebooks and Drawings of Louis I. Kahn. Photo: Lauren Renner
 
 
 
 
 
 
Louis Kahn at work, 1961. Courtesy of the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania. Photo: George Pohl

 

To view the entire book, visit our dedicated website, The Louis I. Kahn Facsimile Project.

 

 The Kickstarter runs through March 31, 2021.

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