1. Almost famous

Architects get all the credit, but where would they be without structural
engineers? Cecil Balmond, the leading light of the profession, tells Justin
McGuirk about his part in Anish Kapoor's Tate Modern sculpture and other

Friday December 19, 2003
The Guardian

Is the structural engineer heading for equal billing with the architect? "I
do believe the tide is turning, that engineering will be seen more
inventively," he says. "Equal billing will be difficult, but I'd argue for a
concept of a team being developed; single authorship for a building of
complexity is really not the way to go. I'd like to see engineers get more
recognition without taking anything away from the architect. The architect
does take all decisions under his name, so in a sense he should get the

Now that we have established that, what does the incumbent heavyweight name
of structural design really want? "My joy would be to play the Chaconne



2.My Architect: A Son's Journey (2003) [three reviews]

(also in news.admin.net-abuse.sightings)

      From: Jon Popick
      Subject: Review: My Architect: A Son's Journey (2003)

© Copyright 2003 Planet Sick-Boy. All Rights Reserved.

Only one prominent architect may have had a more fucked-up death than Antoni
Gaudi (he was a bit eccentric and dressed like a bum, so when he was hit by
a Barcelona streetcar, people just let him lay there and bleed to death),
and that person is the subject of My Architect.  The film is a documentary
made by Nathaniel Kahn, who just so happens to be the son of Architect's
focus - renowned engineer Louis I. Kahn, who created, among other concrete
monstrosities, La Jolla, California's Salk Institute, the Kimbell Art Museum
in Fort Worth, Texas, and a series of governmental buildings in Bangladesh.

Louis Kahn, who died bankrupt and alone in a Penn Station men's room in
1974, was a short, uncompromising man with Coke-bottle glasses and scars
covering his hands and face from a childhood accident in Estonia.  Despite
those physical flaws, he was still quite the ladies' man, carrying on two
long-term extramarital relationships.  The spawn of one of those
philanderings was Nathaniel, who didn't really know his father all that well
when he died.  He was only 11 at the time.

Architect is really two films in one.  Nathaniel Kahn's film is both a
standard doc in which we are educated about a person we may not know much
about, but it's also the story of a son searching for information about what
kind of man his deceased father was.  Architect is full of interviews with
Kahn's family and co-workers; colleagues to cabbies to the guy who found his
body in the crapper.  Other luminaries in the field, like I.M. Pei and Frank
O. Gehry, pop up to talk about Kahn's impact and his fusion of modern
architecture with that of the heavy stone constructions of ancient Rome.

My favorite, though, was an interview with Kahn's old Philadelphia nemesis,
the still-angry Edmund Bacon, who tells a great story about Kahn's proposal
to re-zone the city's downtown area to have no roads.  A very interesting
documentary, but one without much resolution.

1:56 - Not Rated

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      From: Robin Clifford
      Subject: Review: My Architect: A Son's Journey (2003)

"My Architect"

Documentary filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn pursues the truth
about the life and work of his famous and notorious
father, architect Louis Kahn, a man who cast aside the
feelings of those close to him as he practiced his
chosen craft. Kahn the younger examines the man, his
relationships and his most famous works in "My

Comparison is inevitable for those who saw the
charming and imaginative documentary, Lucia Small's
"My Father the Genius," a heartfelt work that combines
examination of her father, brilliant architect Glen
Howard Small. This film and "My Architect" delve into
the lives of visionary geniuses, masters of their
profession but woefully inept in maintaining positive
relationships with wives, lovers and children.

Nathaniel Kahn begins his examination of his father,
Louis, many years after his death. Nathaniel has only
recently admitted to his relationship with the famous,
volatile architect whose creations span the world.
Elder Kahn had a wife and daughter, it was known, but
he also had two mistresses and a child apiece with
them. In all cases, Louis placed his work first and
his family a far distant second as he followed his
artistic destiny and left the remains of his broken
family relationships strewn behind.

Documaker Kahn travels the country and the world and
gathers interviews with his mother and half sisters,
his father's colleagues and disciples. He visits the
far-flung places where his father's visions take
concrete form, such as the enormous, awe-striking
capital he designed for the impoverished nation of
Bangladesh. Kahn also probes into the financial
irresponsibility of Louis that matches his emotional

"My Architect" is not the catharsis that Lucia Small
achieves with "My Father, the Genius." Nathaniel
Kahn's work is more detached and gives some insight
into what made Louis Kahn tick but does not judge the
man and his failings. This is a practical,
straightforward work that delivers in its quest to
make known the accomplishments, and failings, of a
genius. I give it a B-.

For more Reeling reviews visit www.reelingreviews.com

[email protected]
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      From: Laura Clifford
      Subject: Review: My Architect: A Son's Journey (2003)


When famed architect Louis I. Kahn died unexpectedly, his son, Nathaniel,
searched his obituary to find some reference of himself, but only a wife
not his mother and a daughter Sue Ann were mentioned.  Decades later,
Nathaniel is still trying to find evidence of his existence in the life of
his father in his searching documentary, "My Architect: A Son's Journey."

It's not unusual when Hollywood studios come up with the same idea all at
once - two films being prepared about "Alexander the Great" at the same
time, etc., but how odd that two independent filmmakers have both attempted
to reconnect with an absentee father who was a prominent architect via a
documentary within two years!  Even weirder is Kahn's admission that the
real family name is Schmalowski, a foreign version of Lucia's surname?
Lucia Small's "My Father, the Genius" was a well directed, wildly original
use of the form, although she also benefited from having her subject
participate in her film.  Kahn, in trying to explain his present by
revisiting his father's past, goes a more conventional route with a father
who has passed into history.

Kahn interviews his dad's colleagues and contemporaries and visits his most
famous buildings - the Salk Institute, the Kimball Art Museum, the Capitol
of Bangladesh, although they shed little light on the man.  Philip Johnson
dubs him 'the most beloved architect of our time,' while another associate
marvels that Kahn was married, let alone had two additional families with
mistresses.  The architectural kudos are tempered humorously by present day
inhabitants of the Richards Medical Building who say it is not a good place
to work and that birds fly into its windows.

In reconnecting with his past, Kahn is more coy when his interview subject,
in fact, knew him as a young boy.  He has an emotional reunion with the man
who operates a music barge that opens into a hall, a project that Kahn can
trace to a childhood book, 'A Book of Crazy Boats,' made for him by his
dad.  A fascinating bit of kismet is captured when Kahn locates the last
man to see his father alive (Kahn collapsed in the men's room at Penn
Station), who reveals that he hasn't seen his own son in ten years.

Kahn tries to build suspense by working his way through his father's women
by leaving his mother until the film's end.  Harriet Patterson is finally
introduced 1 hour into the film, still beautiful with a rich, youthful
voice,  Although her contention that Louis was returning to her and
Nathaniel at the end because he had crossed out his address in his passport
is poo-pooed by Kahn's legitimate offspring, when she poses her questions
to her son - 'So what do you think Nathaniel?  Do you think it's a myth?' -
her words are poignant and oddly reflective of her son's film.

Kahn ends up with a conflicted portrait of his father - a man with a badly
scarred face who was irresistible to woman, an 'in the trenches'
professional revered by Frank Gehry, a Utopian dreamer of impractical
designs who nonetheless created practical solutions.  One never quite gets
a sense of Kahn has accomplished his person goals, either.  'Are we
family?' he asks his two half-sisters.  He does, however, convey a sense of
loving connection to his father when he includes a shot of himself
rollerblading in the courtyard of the Salk Institute.  His musical
accompaniment?  Neil Young's "Long May You Run."


For more Reeling reviews visit http://www.reelingreviews.com

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