Kahn received the Salk commission in 1959. By 1966, the 27-acre site was built, just eight years before the renowned architect would die of a heart attack in a restroom at Manhattan’s Penn Station. It is in those eight years that he produced the work that would keep him living in stone for ages.
Between 1959 and 1974, Kahn worked on increasingly more public and international buildings, after spending the early part of his career on homes and urban planning in the Philadelphia area where he earned his architecture training at the University of Pennsylvania. A traveling exhibition of his life’s work is showing in San Diego at the Museum of Art in Balboa Park. The massive exhibition explores in chronological order the six central themes of Kahn’s work, from his early efforts in science and engineering to his houses in Pennsylvania, the inclusion of landscape architecture into his projects, to his “interest in the public role and social responsibility of architecture,” which, according to the exhibit introduction, culminated in Dhaka, Bangladesh with his last project, the Bangladeshi Parliament building.
The exhibition, “Louis Kahn The Power of Architecture” is up at the SDMA through January 31 and features more than 200 objects related to Kahn’s life’s work. This includes architectural models (both miniature and large scale), wood blocks and linoleum prints, original drawings and paintings, photographs of his completed buildings, timelines of his accomplishments and business correspondence between Kahn and his clients. It’s an in-depth and slightly overwhelming look into the sprawling career of a modern master.