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:: My Architect

Nominated for best documentary feature at this year’s Academy Awards, My Architect follows filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn in his quest to find out about his father, the legendary architect Louis I Kahn. Lou Kahn died in 1974, when Nate was 11 years old, leaving behind an incredible but limited body of work, unpaid debts and three separate families all living within a few kilometres of each other.

My Architect follows Kahn’s life through chronologically examining his buildings, and interspersing their beauty with the story of a charismatic, but selfish and emotionally immature genius. As the son whom Lou never publicly acknowledged during his lifetime, Nate has delicately placed himself in the story without overpowering the main focus.

When examining the magnificent Salk Institute in California, Nate evokes his father’s mythical use of space and light in his buildings, making it a peaceful and fascinating experience for viewers. The shot of Nate rollerblading in Salk’s smoky white central meeting place emphasises the building’s harmony with nature. It’s breathtaking.

My Architect also covers the difficulty Louis Kahn had with getting his designs accepted. Several fantastic buildings exist only on paper, dismissed by more practical architects and property developers. It wasn’t until Louis Kahn went to the East that his visions were enthusiastically embraced. In India, where he built the Indian Institute of Management, a former co-worker describes him as a guru and in Bangladesh, where he built the magnificent National Assembly Building, citizens consider him a father of democracy in their country.

Watching My Architect is a wonderful way to begin or continue learning about architecture and the importance of space. But it’s the irony of Lou Kahn’s egotism combined with the transcendence of his work that will inspire you.