Louis I. Kahn: Exposed Concrete and Hollow Stones, 1949-1959, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Louis I. Kahn

Exposed Concrete and Hollow Stones, 1949-1959, 1st Edition

By Roberto Gargiani

EPFL Press

260 pages | 317 Color Illus.

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Hardback: 9782940222766
pub: 2014-07-14
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Through sheer determination and courage, Kahn has researched the nature of concrete in the form of precast, cast in place or blocks. Each of his renowned works in exposed concrete, such as the Yale Art Gallery, the Richards Laboratories, the Bath House, the Salk Institute, the National Assembly, the Kimbell Museum, the Exeter Library and the Yale Center for British Art, is itself an important chapter in the history of architecture for the exploration into concrete’s formal expression, beyond the lessons of Le Corbusier.

Kahn’s obsession with concrete’s fabrication processes, the formwork and the mix-design is systematically examined in two volumes. They illustrate Kahn’s vision using documents that have never been revealed in other essays, drawing heavily from original sketches, plans, specifications, worksite photographs, and correspondences with collaborators, engineers, technicians and contractors.

The first volume Exposed Concrete and Hollow Stones focuses on the first ten-year period of Kahn's research on concrete. Moving through the many construction systems experienced by Kahn, from the discovery of exposed concrete in the form of béton brut at the Yale Art Gallery, to the precast and poured-in-place techniques, to the values of joint, growth and ornament, the work culminates in the reconstruction of the artistic and technical characteristics of two great worksite, the Richards Laboratories and the First Unitarian Church and School. The second volume, Towards the Zero Degree of Concrete, covers the following fourteen years and leads the reader along Kahn’s path to the true 'nature of concrete', focusing on his main techniques and discoveries such as the 'liquid stone' of the Salk Institute, the 'smooth finish' at Bryn Mawr and the concept of 'monolithic' at the Yale Center for British Art.


"Louis I. Kahn did more for concrete than most people realise. His famed concrete buildings came from years of obsessive research on concrete’s fabrication process, which vastly expanded our understanding of the material… Soundly researched and containing an astonishing amount of information, this is an enlightening read."Specifier

Table of Contents

1. The Discovery of Exposed Concrete 2. Hollow Stones and Hollow Columns 3. Precast and Poured in Place 4. Archaic Concrete Pattern 5. Forms of Prefabricated Concrete 6. First Unitarian Church and School, or the End of Béton Brut Index

About the Author

Roberto Gargiani has taught the history of architecture in Florence, Rouen, Paris, Venice and Rome. Currently he is the professor in History of Architecture and Construction at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where he also directs the Architecture section. He is the author of Rem Koolhaas/OMA: The Construction of Merveilles; Le Corbusier, Béton brut and Ineffable Space, 1940-1965: Surface Materials and Psychophysiology of Vision; and Concrete: from Archaeology to Invention, 1700-1769.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / History / Contemporary (1945-)
ARCHITECTURE / Individual Architects & Firms / Monographs
ARCHITECTURE / Methods & Materials