Kahn's Modernism and its Renewal


  • David N. Fixler





Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


The late architect and historian Stanford Anderson once remarked that authenticity is the third rail of architectural debate — a place to venture at one’s peril. Notwithstanding, any architectural intervention demands that we engage and understand what is essential — authentic — in the original to its creator, those for whom it was created and all those all who experience it — to ensure fidelity to the character and integrity of the original work. Louis I. Kahn was one of a handful of truly significant architects of the last 75 years, and arguably the one who (with Le Corbusier) will have the most lasting effect upon architecture over time. As we now assess his legacy and develop interventions for renewal, it is instructive to contemplate how our understanding of Kahn’s aesthetic of authenticity — buildings as “instrument[s] that exaggerate, and so heighten one’s awareness of nature’s infinite variations” — should affect our approach to their conservation, adaptation and renewal.

How to Cite

Fixler, D. N. (2018). Kahn’s Modernism and its Renewal. Docomomo Journal, (58), 4–5. https://doi.org/10.52200/58.A.1TS6XKW5




Author Biography

David N. Fixler

FAIA. FAPT. Architect specializing in conservation and adaptive reuse, with focus on modern properties; lecturer at Harvard GSD. His projects include Alvar Aalto’s Baker House and Eero Saarinen’s Kresge Auditorium and Chapel at MIT, Kahn’s Richards Labs at University of Pennsylvania and the United Nations Headquarters in New York. He has taught and lectured around the world, and his many articles have been published internationally. He has guest edited scholarly journals, and co-edited Aalto and America from Yale University Press. A Peer Review Architect for the United States General Services Administration, he plays a leadership role in conservation organizations including APT, as co-founder and former Chair of the Technical Committee on Modern Heritage, the SAH, and docomomo, where he has served internationally on the ISC/Registers, and as co-founder and current president of docomomo- US/New England.