BAM brings prestigious Louis Kahn exhibition to Bellevue

October 27, 2015
Images (left to right): Louis Kahn, 1972. Photo: © Robert C. Lautman Photography Collection, National Building Museum; Louis Kahn, National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1962-83; Louis Kahn, Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, 1959-65. © The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania. Photo: John Nicolais

October 27, 2015
Contact: Karin Kidder
Phone: 425.519.0759


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Bellevue, WA—Bellevue Arts Museum will be the first US venue to host the prestigious exhibition, Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture. The exhibition is organized by the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, and will open in Bellevue on January 29, 2016. It is the first major retrospective of the famous American architect in twenty years.

Louis Kahn is regarded as one of the great master builders of the twentieth century. With complex spatial compositions and a choreographic mastery of light, Kahn created buildings of archaic beauty and powerful universal symbolism. Highly esteemed by his fellow architects, Kahn ranks among seminal figures such as Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Lloyd Wright and has exerted an enduring influence on the work of significant contemporary architects like Renzo Piano and Frank Gehry.

Some of Kahn’s most important designs include the Kimbell Art Museum in Texas, the Salk Institute in California, and the National Assembly Building in Bangladesh. The exhibition examines Kahn through six broad themes: City looks at his relationship with his adopted home of Philadelphia, Science demonstrates his use of engineering and geometric structures, Landscape shows the importance of nature within his work, House takes in Kahn’s residential commissions, Eternal Present places him in the context of architectural history, and Community examines his devotion to public buildings. His buildings, private homes, museums, places of worship, and university and
government structures are simple, monumental, timeless, and uplifting.

“Kahn distinguished himself by demonstrating the role of architecture in transforming community into an experience.” Said Stefano Catalani, BAM Director of Art, Craft, & Design, “This is an incredibly relevant concept for our region during this time of growth and expansion.”

Original drawings and sketches, historic and newly constructed models, photographs, and films in which contemporary architects shed light on Kahn’s pivotal role in the discipline of architecture will be presented in BAM’s main gallery. The exhibition will also include a series of extraordinary watercolors recording Kahn’s travels through North America, Europe, and Egypt.

The exhibition is organized by the Vitra Design Museum in collaboration with the Netherlands Architecture Institute and the Architectural Archive of the University of Pennsylvania. It is an incredible opportunity for those in the profession to see a remarkable range of Kahn’s original work gathered together—and for the public to become acquainted with the work of this influential architect.

Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture is an exhibition of the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, in collaboration with the Architectural Archives of The University of Pennsylvania and The New Institute, Rotterdam. Swarovski is the global sponsor of this exhibition. The local presentation of this exhibition is curated by Stefano Catalani and made possible by Boeing, MG2, The City of Bellevue, Su Development, DCI Engineers, and Baylis Architects.


Film Screening & Discussion: My Architect
Friday, January 29, 4 – 6pm
Award-winning writer/director Nathaniel Kahn will join Bellevue Arts Museum in celebration of the exhibition for a question-and-answer session following the screening of My Architect, his touching Oscar-nominated homage to his father, visionary architect Louis Kahn.

Lectures: Steven Holl & Robert McCarter
Saturday, March 5, 12 – 3pm
BAM will host two exclusive presentations on the legacy of Louis Kahn with architect and watercolorist Steven Holl—who designed Bellevue Arts Museum’s distinctive building—and architect and author Robert McCarter. Light refreshments will be served.

Conversations with Contemporaries
Saturday, April 2, 12 – 3pm
BAM will take an in-depth look at Kahn's philosophy and unique pedagogy with an opening lecture featuring six time AIA National Honor Award recipient and architect James L. Cutler. Following the lecture, architect Boris Srdar will moderate a panel featuring Richard Mohler and Anthony Pellecchia, among others.

Thursday – Saturday, April 7 – 9
Co-hosted by Bellevue Arts Museum and the City of Bellevue, the charrette will be an intensive planning session where architects, designers, urban planners, and citizens collaborate on a vision for the development and wellbeing of the Eastside communities. The charrette will provide a forum for seminal ideas while offering the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the city planners.

Bellevue Arts Museum is a leading destination in the Pacific Northwest to experience art, craft, and design. BAM engages the community through exhibitions, programs, and publications, featuring regional, national, and international artists.