I just watched My Architect, courtesy of Netflix. The son of architect Louis I Kahn goes on a journey to know more about his father (whom he knew only a little at a time before Kahn’s death in 1974).
You know, I keep wanting to run down architecture that seems to be about the spectacle, the shape and light and mass, instead of the usefulness of the structure. But I think this is the first time it has really clicked for me how *useful* the spectacle can be.
When an architect from Bangladesh is brought to tears explaining what Kahn’s incredible design for the Bangladesh national assembly means to the people of that country, and when you see its image on their money and in the graffiti of their streets — somehow that makes it click.
Not that it’s always justifiable if it makes buildings unusable — thousands of poor Bangladeshis carried concrete on their heads to make that building. What if it had turned out to be hard to use for its purpose, and had gotten in the way of the people’s government instead of supporting it? Its visage wouldn’t have meant nearly as much.
I think I’d just about fly to Bangladesh to see that thing. It’s phenomenal.