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… Built on mystery

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
Kimberly Nicoletti 3/31/04 Run Rick's to the left.

One of Louis Kahn’s colleagues describes the world-famous architect as an incredible man whom people forgave easily because he was so smart. His lovers still feel passionately about him.

Architect Philip Johnson says Kahn wasn’t much to look at, but he felt an “animal attraction” to his mind and wished he could have known the mysterious man better.



“My Architect” is Nathaniel Kahn’s attempt to delve into the secret lives of his father.

Nathaniel Kahn tried to produce an objective documentary, but as he interviewed his father’s colleagues, he realized the crux of the story lied in the emotion of a man searching for his father.



“It’s scary to go back,” Nathaniel Kahn wrote in a press kit. “You don’t know what you’re going to find. There’s always the risk of embarrassing yourself: Here comes what appears to be a nearly middle-aged man asking questions that a child asks. That was difficult.”

The documentary portrays Nathaniel Kahn’s raw emotion at times, but rarely did I feel like he was dragging me along on a search to heal his childhood wounds. Most of the time, I wanted to know about this artistic man who kept two lovers and the children he bore away from his main life with his wife and daughter.

The people Nathaniel Kahn interviews are as interesting as Louis Kahn, and that’s what makes the documentary work so well.

The Chinese architect I.M. Pei talks about the spirituality of buildings. Some people talk about Louis Kahn almost as a god. Another says, “Don’t put him on a pedestal.” Another rages about the man’s pure ignorance. Clips of Louis Kahn show his artistic vision as he teaches students to “Ask the brick what it wants” and to “Honor the materials you use.”

Then there are Louis Kahn’s lovers.

Anne Tyng, one of his lovers, talks about him as if he’s ever present, saying, “He’s just there. You don’t have to think about him.” She reveals no bitterness but rather thinks of all of his children and lovers as being connected.

Harriet Pattison, Nathaniel Kahn’s mother, considers Louis Kahn her soul mate. They became completely absorbed with ideas when working on architectural projects. She paid a price for the love, but she says it was worth it.

In addition to footage of amazing structures, the beauty of “My Architect” lies in its exploration of the unseen: the enduring spirit of buildings, the mystery of passion and the journey of understanding human relationships.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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