1st Edition

Tradition as Mediation: Louis I. Kahn The Dominican Motherhouse & The Hurva Synagogue

By Dana Margalith Copyright 2018
    252 Pages
    by Routledge

    250 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores Louis I. Kahn's approach to tradition as revealed in two of his important, unbuilt, projects. Focusing on Kahn's designs for the Dominican Motherhouse of St. Catherine de Ricci, Media, Pennsylvania (1965-1969), and the Hurva Synagogue, Jerusalem, Israel (1967-1974), the book challenges prevailing aesthetic and methodological assessments of Kahn's use of tradition. It reveals how an authentic and critical theoretical-historical and humanistic study of tradition nourished Kahn's designs, enabling him to mediate historical rituals, ideas and beliefs – and to develop innovative designs rooted deep in human culture while addressing real modern concerns. The book evaluates Kahn's works as a creative recreation and re-interpretation of the past, shedding light on the potential value of the meaningful consideration of tradition in modern times.

    Section I 1. Weak Truth 2. Institutions on Trial 3. Proto Forms as Seeds of Desire Section 2 Part 1: The Dominican Motherhouse of St. Catherine de Ricci, Media Pennsylvania, 1965-1969 1. The Architectural Challenge 2. Design Schemes 3. Proto Forms as Seeds of Desire 4. Mnemonic Images and Programs 5. The Motherhouse after Kahn Part 2: The Hurva Synagogue The Old City of Jerusalem, 1967-1974 1. A New Institution 2. Design Proposals 3. Proto Forms as Seeds of Desire 4. Mnemonic Images and Programs 5. The Hurva Synagogue after Kahn Section III LEARNING FROM KAHN Conclusion: Mediation Kahn's Mnemonic Images and Programs


    Dana Margalith is a lecturer at Tel-Aviv University, Israel, and a practicing architect.

    Through a carefully focused study of two major projects by Louis Kahn’s, this important book clarifies the architect’s crucial and often misunderstood relationship to history. Questioning previously held assessments of Kahn’s work, Dana Margalith reveals the originality and contemporary pertinence of Kahn’s approach, engaging cultural habits and traditions hermeneutically that crystallize in significantly innovative projects. Such approach is mischaracterized by the simple appellations of modernism or postmodernism, going beyond a merely progressive or reactionary use of forms for the sake of novelty.

    Alberto Pérez-Gómez, Bronfman Professor of Architectural History, McGill University, Canada.


    Louis I. Kahn redirected the entire tradition of modern architecture, though that was not the aim of his ‘patient search,’ for he was much too focused on the very topics creatively studied in this book: human association, as evident in the meaningful situations of our lives, that have been shaped historically, as well as the spatial and material interactions between buildings and their environments, the order of which projects both interpret and transform. Two unbuilt projects focus the book’s arguments, inviting the reader to discover in both written and drawn traces of thought real possibilities for an architecture of our time that can be beautiful, significant, and poetic.

    David Leatherbarrow, University of Pennsylvania, USA.