What Decides “Heritage”? Lessons from a Comparison of Louis Kahn's Commercial and Institutional Projects


  • Lloyd L. Desbrisay





Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


In the quest to save recent-past, mid-century modern buildings, it is important to recognize how symbolic and commercial considerations influence the likelihood that some buildings are preserved while other buildings are demolished. Simply put, why does one building survive and another not? This article compares two of Louis I. Kahn’s projects — one a commercial building and the other institutional. The comparison examines how various dynamics facilitate or hinder the preservation of modern buildings. Further analysis considers steps that preservation-minded individuals and organizations might consider to retain and restore more modern buildings.

How to Cite

Desbrisay, L. L. (2018). What Decides “Heritage”? Lessons from a Comparison of Louis Kahn’s Commercial and Institutional Projects . Docomomo Journal, (58), 6–11. https://doi.org/10.52200/58.A.09IB6G5G




Author Biography

Lloyd L. Desbrisay

Practitioner architect since 1989. His work is driven by the quest for practical, effective and affordable solutions to complex architectural and interior design problems. He has extensive experience on historic restoration projects. Primary among his past experience as an Associate at Polshek Partnership Architects (now Ennead Architects) is the award-winning renovation of Louis Kahn’s seminal Yale University Art Gallery’s museum building. He is currently at Huntsman Architectural Group; a registered architect in California, New York & Connecticut; and was awarded a Departmental Citation from the University of California Berkeley’s Architecture department where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree.