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Louis Kahn in Ahmedabad and Dhaka

Kathleen James-Chakraborty

Résumés

En 1962, le cabinet de Louis Kahn a débuté son travail sur le bâtiment de l’Institut indien de gestion (Indian Institute of Management) à Ahmedabad, en Inde, et sur celui de l'Assemblée nationale à Dhaka, au Bangladesh. Mais plus qu’à un seul architecte, ou même à un cabinet d'architecture, ces bâtiments devraient plutôt être attribués à la fois aux nombreux experts impliqués dans leur réalisation, depuis la main-d’œuvre maîtrisant de nouvelles technique de maçonnerie et de coulage du béton, jusqu’aux universitaires et fonctionnaires dont les exigences se répercutèrent également sur la forme. La négociation des différents intérêts ainsi que les origines culturelles de ces types d’expertise souvent en concurrence entre elles ont ralenti l’aboutissement des deux projets pour finalement contribuer de façon déterminante à leur aspect final.

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Entrées d’index

Index de mots-clés :

architecture moderne, béton armé

Indice de palabras clave :

arquitectura moderna, hormigón aglomerado

Schlagwortindex :

Moderne Architektur, Stahlbeton

Index géographique :

Asie, Asie du Sud, Inde, Ahmedabad, Dhaka, Pakistan

Index chronologique :

XXe siècle
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Texte intégral

1In 1968 a Pakistani civil servant, M. G. Siddiqui, recently appointed Chief Engineer of the American architect’s Louis Kahn’s National Assembly under construction in Dhaka, wrote home following his visit to the architect’s Philadelphia office:

  • 1 I thank the Graham Foundation for funding this research. M. G. Siddiqui, typescript of tour notes, (...)

“The method of working of Professor Louis I. Kahn's office is unusual. In a normal commercial Architect's office the original idea is sketched by the Architect himself and its further development, detailed planning, etc., is left to the office. Professor Kahn waits for the inspiration and then personally supervises further development of his idea at all stages of its development. On most of the occasions, the original idea and almost each stage of its development is discussed by the Professor with his staff, the aesthetic feature explained, comments obtained and considered. On many occasions far-reaching changes are made. Then while the idea of the day for a particular work is being developed by the office, the Professor may think out a better solution and the whole process of discussion, amendments and developments is repeated. The first lot of drawings and models go into the record of development of the final idea and are of no other use. Sometimes the process is repeated many times before the plans are finalized and sent to the client. The staff are paid on an hourly basis and are naturally very happy with this arrangement as they get paid even for the period when the Professor is expounding theories applicable to the case under consideration.”1

  • 2 David B. Brownlee and David De Long (eds.), Louis I. Kahn: In the Realm of Architecture, Los Angel (...)

2Siddiqui’s astonishment to find that Kahn did not conform to his expectation of an efficient western professional raises the question of who is an expert. What, moreover, are experts expected to provide, and what can they in fact deliver? And how is the situation affected by cultural difference when European-born architects (Kahn immigrated to the United States as a child) work in the Third World? Many different groups contributed expertise to the design and construction of Kahn’s Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad and the National Assembly in Dhaka (fig. 1 and 2).2 In addition to the international team in Kahn’s own office, local architects played a key role, as did businessmen and economists in the case of IIM, and engineers from the Pakistani Department of Public Works in the case of Dhaka. The role of contractors and construction labor was also crucial.

Figure 1: Indian Institute of Management, courtyard with faculty offices block on left and classroom block on right, Louis Kahn, Ahmedabad, India, 1962–1974.

Figure 1: Indian Institute of Management, courtyard with faculty offices block on left and classroom block on right, Louis Kahn, Ahmedabad, India, 1962–1974.

Source: Wikipedia Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/​wikipedia/​commons/​3/​33/​Louis_Kahn_Plaza.jpg.

Figure 2: National Assembly, Louis Kahn, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1962–1983.

Figure 2: National Assembly, Louis Kahn, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1962–1983.

Source: Wikipedia Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/​wikipedia/​commons/​thumb/​f/​fb/​Dhaka02.jpg/​1280px-Dhaka02.jpg.

  • 3 Timothy Mitchell, The Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-politics, Modernity, Berkeley, CA: University (...)

3Each group provided distinct kinds of expertise. Kahn could be depended upon for a high quality of design that would receive worldwide attention. He could facilitate also the training of local construction labor to participate in a global workforce, and could assist local architects in establishing high profiles in the international architectural community. His talent did not always dovetail exactly, however, with the expectations of his clients, who wanted large and complex buildings delivered in an efficient manner that would in the case of Pakistan also fuse the integration of the latest technology with respect for Islamic precedent and local social mores.3 Mediating between these two groups were the interests of the architects who turned down prestigious commissions in order to bring Kahn to South Asia.

4The interactions between these groups could fail, be negotiated, or prove mutually beneficial. In the case of Kahn’s major buildings in South Asia, difficulties in communication and differing expectations about whether modern architecture was primarily a theoretical position regarding how one builds, or the delivery of the most up to date technological systems delayed the design and construction process, all but bankrupted his firm, and hindered the ability of his clients to realize their own goals. Construction proved to be an arena of cross-fertilization, as both parties shifted their standard practice in ways that transformed Kahn’s architecture, the architecture of a younger generation of leading Indian architects, and the careers of construction workers in Bangladesh, as East Pakistan became in 1971. And there were successes, not all of them specifically Kahn’s. IIM became one of Asia’s best business schools. The new nation of Bangladesh acquired one of its key symbols. Indian architects, especially those affiliated with the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) in Ahmedabad built careers as architects and academics in India and abroad, especially in the United States.

5Kahn was clearly not the kind of expert his Pakistani client expected. He ran a boutique rather than a corporate practice. His goal was not profit or the efficient delivery of product but the aesthetic quality of the building. This he believed resided above all in the way it was constructed and the society it helped shape. As such he was not, despite the international renown he increasingly enjoyed by 1962, conventionally well equipped to deal with the scale of South Asian commissions he received that year and on which he worked for the rest of his life.

6The biggest and most highly regarded building Kahn had completed to date was the Richard Medical Research Laboratories on the University of Pennsylvania campus. The core of this project, finished in 1960, was the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art the following year. At Richards Kahn established himself as a master of up-to-the minute construction techniques to serve scientific purposes; this building would exert a major influence on Team X in Europe and Metabolism in Japan.

  • 4 Louis I. Kahn, address delivered in United States District Court for the eastern district of Penns (...)

7Beyond aesthetic integrity and excellence, Kahn’s practice abroad was shaped by his commitment to providing what he termed “availabilities”. Kahn, who had benefitted as a poor immigrant from a variety of philanthropic organizations in his adopted city of Philadelphia, sought to nurture the societies in which he worked by giving their citizens access to the educational and political institutions that enabled individuals to make their own choices about their lives. In an emphatically patriotic address to new American citizens, Kahn once described South Asia as a region in which “98% of the people cannot dare to have any desires whatsoever as to what they might want to be. And it never crosses their mind because the sense of availability is not there.”4

  • 5 Susan G. Solomon, Louis I. Kahn’s Trenton Jewish Community Center, New York, NY: Princeton Archite (...)
  • 6 Louis I. Kahn, letter to James Keough, 6 August 1973, copy in “Rabat 2,” Philadelphia (United-Stat (...)

8Kahn’s point of view was that of a thankful Jew spared the Holocaust by his immigration to the United States.5 The turbulent sixties failed to shake his commitment to an enlightened architecture of propaganda. In 1973 he wrote the United States Information Agency, “I have noticed that architecture is not included in the media services of the USIA … Architecture, one of the strongest media of social expression, should be a part of the collaborative atmosphere... [It] could forward the image of America through the non-interests power of commonality inherent in Art. Our sense of liberty and democracy has made us the richest of all countries in the offering of availabilities to its people. The places of these availabilities present our way of life... The buildings we design in foreign cities must be our best. We may even learn from such special offerings to build better expressions of our own.”6

  • 7 Louis I. Kahn, “Remarks,” Perspecta, no. 9–10, 1965, p. 322. Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural (...)
  • 8 William H. Seward, letter to Culver E. Giddon, 12 March 1965, copy in “C. E. V.,” Philadelphia (Un (...)

9Although Kahn’s clients were foreign, American interests were clearly involved in commissions executed at the height of the Cold War. Based on the Harvard Business School, whose plan Kahn carefully studied, the Indian Institute of Management was intended by its American sponsor, the Ford Foundation, (often a conduit for CIA funding) and the local mill owners to foster Indian economic development by educating students in American-style capitalism.7 This was a significant political statement in a country that, although officially nonaligned, still followed the Soviet model of state-sponsored economic planning. The prestige of having an American design the political infrastructure of Pakistan was even greater. The State Department, when granting a visa waiver for one of his staff, the Argentine Carles Valhonrat, acknowledged that “the successful completion of the Pakistan commission is considered to be of national importance” to the United States.8

  • 9 William J. R. Curtis, Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms, New York, NY: Rizzoli, 1986, p. 200–212; for (...)
  • 10 The library at IIM is named after Sarabhai and the Management Development Centre after Lalbhai.

10Prestige was also important to Kahn’s Indian and Pakistani clients. Gujarati businessmen and economists, who were extraordinarily well informed about contemporary architecture internationally, founded IIM. Key member of this circle, including Gautam and his sister-in-law Manorama Sarabhai, had already commissioned four buildings from Le Corbusier, while Gautum and his sister Gita founded the National Institute of Design (NID) with the help of Charles and Ray Eames (fig. 3).9 They were also certainly reacting against the socialist bias of Indian economic planning at the time by choosing Harvard’s Business School as a model. Kahn’s clients, who included Gautum’s brother Vikram Sarabhai, the scion of a local industrial dynasty, and Kasturbhai Lalbhai, were very involved in the early phases of the design.10

Figure 3: Mill Owner’s Association Building, Le Corbusier, Ahmedabad, India, 1951–1954.

Figure 3: Mill Owner’s Association Building, Le Corbusier, Ahmedabad, India, 1951–1954.

Source: Wikipedia Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/​wikipedia/​commons/​a/​aa/​ATMA_House_186.jpg.

  • 11 The Sarabhai family remains involved in the running of Gandhi’s former ashram. See URL: http://gan (...)
  • 12 URL: http://mrinalinibiosketch.blogspot.ie/. Accessed 10 February 2013.
  • foot Sherrif Moloobhoy, “Offices and Stores for Calico Mills, Ahmedabad,” Marg, vol. 3, 1949, p. 14–16.
  • 12 MARG [Modern Architecture Research Group], “Architecture and You,” Marg, vol. 1, October 1946, p.  (...)

11These men and women were enormously proud of the role that they and their families had played in supporting Mahatma Gandhi, whose base was from 1917 to 1930 an Ahmadabad ashram, in particular, and Indian independence in general.11 They were well informed about and proud of their cultural heritage; Vikram’s wife Mrinalini was one of India’s leading classical dancers.12 Nonetheless they were unreserved in their support of modern architects from abroad. Gautum Sarabhai had even tried to get Frank Lloyd Wright to build for his family’s Calico Mills.foot Understanding indigenous architecture to be compromised by the adept use the British had made of it, these scions of India’s first industrialists believed in visible symbols of economic and social as well as political progress.12 Wealthy and sophisticated, they were committed to both modernity (Vikram Sarabhai was the father of India’s space program) and modernism as the path forward for their young nation.

  • 13 Kathleen James-Chakraborty, “Architecture of the Cold War: Louis Kahn and Edward Durrell Stone in (...)

12Kahn’s Pakistani clients were less informed about contemporary architecture; they hired Sir Robert Matthew to help them organize the planning of their new capital of Islamabad, to which Kahn was originally asked to contribute the presidential estate. Although he eventually lost this commission to Edward Durrell Stone, he was also asked to design the National Assembly, which was being offered as a sop to East Pakistan, the more populous half of the country. For the government of Ayub Khan, the general who had seized power in 1959, turning to an American architect was undoubtedly intended in part to please the superpower with which Pakistan had unequivocally sided in the Cold War.13

13Kahn was hired to design both IIM and the National Assembly after the ambitious young local architects originally offered the commissions turned them down in favor of turning to an architect they expected to be able to integrate them and their students into the international architectural community. Balkrishna Doshi, who had been the project architect for Le Corbusier’s work in Ahmedabad, met Kahn on a visit to the University of Pennsylvania. Doshi, who was teaching architecture at NID, originally brought Kahn to serve as consultant on what was at the beginning an NID commission. He remained engaged with IIM throughout the life of the project; and also with teaching. He spun CEPT, India’s most prestigious architecture school, off from NID in 1962.14 Throughout the history of the commission, it was he, rather than the client, who provided the Indian architects who worked on the project in both Philadelphia and Ahmedabad. Mazural Islam, who had studied at Yale when Kahn was teaching there, had similar pedagogical aims, but was unable to operate personally as an interface between Kahn and the Pakistani Department of Public Works. Islam, like many Bengalis, was increasingly estranged from the Pakistani national government, whose engineers worked directly with the office, staffed by Americans, that Kahn established in Dhaka.15

14Neither the professional architects nor the engineers charged with designing and supervising the construction of the two buildings recognized the construction workers as experts, but in fact the considerable skills of these men and women were integral to their completion. Kahn himself very much believed his responsibility to help train a new generation of South Asian architects extended as well to even those who labored manually setting bricks and crafting formwork.

  • 16 Roy Vollmer, letter to Additional Chief Engineer, 30 June 1965, in “Pakcap – Correspondence to/fro (...)
  • 17 Kathleen James, “Indian Institute of Management,” in David Brownlee and David De Long (eds.), Loui (...)
  • 18 According to J. B. MacAllister, letter to M. G. Siddiqui, 22 August 1966, in “MacAllister’s Visit (...)
  • 19 “Question Hour,” Dawn, 26 June 1965, p. 6.
  • 20 Subrata Roy Chowdhury, The Genesis of Bangladesh, Bombay; New York, NY: Asia Publishing House, 197 (...)
  • 21 Neil Thompson, letter to Henry Wilcots, 17 October 1968, in “Pac Correspondence To/Fr Gus, Jun 196 (...)

15The relationship between these diverse groups of experts with widely varying motivations was often fragile. Communication posed a particular problem, exacerbating economic challenges and cultural differences. Almost all information was sent by post, except when Kahn traveled in person to the site; telephone calls remained prohibitively expensive. Customs officials could cause further delays, holding up the already slow speed at which drawings arrived from Philadelphia.16 In 1969 Kahn nearly lost the commission for IIM, which was largely completed by Anant Raje.17 Raje, a graduate of the J. J. School in Bombay, worked in Kahn’s Philadelphia office for several years, before returning to Ahmedabad, where he had earlier collaborated with Doshi, to take charge of the IIM campus. The Dhaka commission posed even greater challenges. Kahn worked for a pittance in Ahmedabad, but expected to be paid as an expert for Dhaka. Instead the Pakistani government was at least as late paying its bills as Kahn was in developing design details.18 The cost to Pakistan proved even higher than it was to Kahn. The delays in constructing the National Assembly further inflamed the considerable tensions between East and West Pakistan, with easterners resenting the speed with which the new West Pakistani capital of Islamabad was being realized.19 The army harshly repressed the growing unrest. In 1971 Bangladesh declared its independence.20 Three years earlier a disgruntled PWD source had told Kahn's Dhaka office, “The selection of Louis I. Kahn as the Architect has been the biggest mistake Pakistan has made since 1947.”21

16Less fraught, yet the subject of considerable discussion with compromises on both sides, was the issue of how to construct the two projects. This was an area of complex negotiation between parties with competing agendas. Cognizant that its use would channel most of the construction costs into the pockets of day laborers, Kahn’s IIM clients insisted on as much brick as possible. This decision resonated as well in Dhaka. Although the National Assembly itself was constructed entirely of concrete, the Ayub Hospital and hostels for the legislators were built of brick. The basic outlines of Kahn’s approach to brick in Ahmedabad are well known. Kahn himself declared:

  • 22 Kahn as quoted in Richard Saul Wurman (ed.), What will be has always been: The Words of Louis I. K (...)

“I had to learn to lay brickwork from scratch... Why hide the beauty of open brickwork? I asked the brick what it wanted and it said I want to be an arch, so I gave it an arch. But then I had to teach the bricklayers that an arch was really an arch and not just any curve between two points. I wanted the first arches ever built to be left as they were, a little playground for children.”22

  • 23 Amit Srivastava, “Encountering Materials in Architectural Production: The Case of Kahn and Brick a (...)

17Standard practice in both Ahmedabad and Dhaka was to cover both brick and concrete construction in a layer of stucco. This meant that the quality of brick and concrete finish did not need to be very high. Kahn instead focused on educating his workforce to expose finely detailed structural work. Amit Srivastava has recently unearthed many new details regarding the use of brick in Ahmedabad, not least by interviewing a number of the surviving masons, many of whom Kahn knew by name.23 Less well known are the details of Kahn’s attempts to change the way concrete was used in Dhaka or the benefits it proved to have for laborers there.

  • 24 Edward R. Ford, The Details of Modern Architecture: 1928–1988, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996, vol (...)

18Kahn’s focus on inculcating a theoretical approach to modern architecture that was at odds with local as well as international practice conflicted with the goals of his Pakistani clients. The constant tensions in Dhaka over the quality of finishes highlighted the gap between civil servants, trained as engineers and judged on their ability to get the job done and their architect, who believed he had a moral responsibility to develop alternatives to exactly the standard modern procedures they were hoping to import.24

  • 25 Maria Langford for Roy Vollmer, letter to David Wisdom, 30 June 1965, in “Pac Cap – Correspondence (...)
  • 26 Report by F. A. Faruqui & Day, Superintending engineers, appended to Ahmed, letter to Louis Kahn, (...)
  • 27 Specifications, 2 April 1964, “Second Cap Pak,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsy (...)
  • 28 Henry Wilcots to David Wisdom, letter of 8 June 1967, in “PAC – Correspondence to/from Gus, Hune 1 (...)

19Also at issue were the limited skills of the local labor force. In 1965 an American working in Dhaka wrote home to the Philadelphia office, “Try to keep all the detailing simple. A workman uses no tools. Please make everything straight forward, simple, and unsophisticated. Most people here cannot read, let alone read drawings.”25 Kahn initially proposed to use pre-stressed concrete, as he had at Richards, but this was entirely outside the capacity of the local construction industry. Modernity would, at least to some degree, have to be a matter of form rather than technology. In 1964 a local source informed him, “In East Pakistan concrete is one of the most expensive items in the building industry... Practically all the high rise buildings in Dhaka are made of [reinforced concrete] frame, having brick panel walls to get uniformity and smooth surface after plastering the walls... The outside walls and columns can be ornamentally treated with different types of finishing materials and ornamental brick facing... The idea of making reinforced concrete without any sort of rendering (plaster) should be abandoned.”26 This was anathema to Kahn, who remained throughout his life a strict modernist when it came to the doctrine of truth to materials. Instead he set out to transform the local construction industry, much as he had been asked to do in Ahmedabad. When in 1965, he finally abandoned the hope of using concrete for anything but the National Assembly building, he commented dryly, that the “brick is to be manufactured locally but is not necessarily the standard product of the locale.”27 Nonetheless, one Dhaka contractor simply refused to believe that his concrete, too sloppy for Kahn's staff, would not eventually be covered in plaster, as it had always been before.28

  • 29 Nazimmudin Ahmed, “Architectural Development in Bangladesh,” in Robert Powell (ed.), Regionalism i (...)

20The impact of Kahn’s forcefully expressed opinions on local practice in both countries was nonetheless enormous. It was facilitated by the key role that his example played in training not only construction labor but also architects. The presence of Doshi, who became one of the leading Indian architects of his generation, and of CEPT, in Ahmedabad was invaluable. In Bangladesh, which acquired its first professionally trained architect only in 1953, the influence of his brick vocabulary was and remains even more ubiquitous, although his treatment of concrete, with inset bands of marble to mark each pour apparently remains unique.29

  • 30 Louis I. Kahn, undated typescript of presentation to Pakistanis in “Pakistan Correspondence - Misc (...)
  • 31 “Minutes of a Meeting held on 19 Jan. 1970,” in “PAK PWD Correspondence 1969,” Philadelphia (Unite (...)

21Nor did the impact flow in a single direction. The demands that his Pakistani clients made for specifically Islamic content forced Kahn to relate his work explicitly to monumental pre-colonial precedents. He respected his clients’ demand for “an Islamic touch,” without always being able to offer what they desired. “All along,” he once noted, “our effort has been to evolve the new architectural forms for a new civic order, within the framework to suit the personality of a great Islamic Culture with glorious traditions of Mughal Architecture. This approach to the solution of the problem is an effort to link the promising future with the glorious past.”30 The Islamic character of the National Assembly lies in the prominence Kahn assigned to the mosque, which he expanded to ten times the size required in the program. Its design was the focus of particular concern about identity. Kahn's clients feared that a proposed pyramidal roof would “give the impression of a church,” and requested a dome in its place. When Kahn declared in its defense, “after being covered with marble it will present a very pleasant appearance from the South Plaza,” a Pakistani official countered “the sentiments of those who will offer prayers inside the mosque were far more important than any aesthetic architectural consideration.”31

  • 32 Louis I. Kahn, “Interview,” Perspecta, no. 7, 1961, p. 9–18, and Kathleen James, “Form versus Func (...)
  • 33 Balkrishna Doshi in Richard Saul Wurman, What will be has always been, op. cit. (note 24), p. 271– (...)

22The demands that Kahn’s Indian and Pakistani clients placed upon him radically reoriented Kahn’s architecture. Many of the characteristic features of his late work, including his fascination with layered compositions that shade interiors from intense light and the organization of institutions around central courtyards, were the direct result of his experiences in Africa and Asia.32 Far from the Philadelphia setting of Richards, Kahn unhitched his architecture from the fascination with the mechanized movement of people and air that made him a forefather for the metabolists in Japan and the megastructural movement in Europe and the United States. Although usually attributed to his grounding in western classicism, the balance between formal clarity and flexible programming characteristic of Kahn's late work owed at least as much to his exposure to medieval and early modern architecture in South Asia.33 Indeed after 1962 he spent far more time in the region than he did in Europe.

  • 36 James Steele, The Complete Architecture of Balkrishna Doshi: Rethinking Modernism for the Developi (...)

23Nor did the benefits accrue to Kahn alone. The leadership of IIM may have wished to get their buildings up as quickly as possible, but in the long term the delays had no major ill effect as the school quickly emerged as one of the most outstanding in the region. Moreover architecture remained key to the IIM brand. Raje, who also had a distinguished career teaching at CEPT, remained in charge of the Ahmedabad campus; Doshi designed its Bangalore counterpart (fig. 4). Indeed, few people gained more from Kahn’s presence in India than Doshi and his students. For much of the rest of his career Doshi has designed buildings that have had a clear relationship with Kahn’s work.36 In fact Kahn helped integrate Doshi, who had worked with Le Corbusier, and his students into professional international networks, not least because so many people from abroad came to see the city’s modernist monuments.

Figure 4: Indian Institute of Management, Balkrishna Doshi, Bangalore, India, 1983.

Figure 4: Indian Institute of Management, Balkrishna Doshi, Bangalore, India, 1983.

Source: Wikipedia Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/​wikipedia/​commons/​thumb/​1/​11/​IIM-B_016.jpg/​1280px-IIM-B_016.jpg. Photo de Sanyam Bahga.

  • 34 The most complete publication of the building before its completion appears in Romaldo Giurgola an (...)

24While the work of Bangladeshi architects remains less known internationally, in the National Assembly the new nation of Bangladesh gained a powerful national symbol. Completed in 1983, a dozen years after independence and nine after Kahn’s death, it has become a powerful stimulus for local desires for democracy, especially since its receipt of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989 drew international attention to the completion of a project about which the international community had largely forgotten.34 Moreover the fact that Kahn laid out large public spaces around the Assembly has provided Dhaka with some of its most significant open areas, used by large numbers of people from different social groups.

25The story of Kahn’s commissions in South Asia reminds us that buildings are never the work of a single figure, or even produced solely by an architectural firm. A large array of intersecting networks of people from various social backgrounds shares responsibility for commissioning, designing, and constructing them and thus deserves credit for their aesthetic successes and failures. Moreover the impact of a building encompasses not only the experiences of the users of the finished structure but also those who are familiar with it only through images. It also includes, in the case of IMM and the National Assembly, the increased skillset they bestowed upon a diverse set of groups that includes the South Asian construction workers in the Gulf who got their initial training on these building sites, the graduates of CEPT teaching at major American universities, and the IIM alumni who share a familiarity with Kahn’s work with their counterparts from Exeter and Yale. IIM and the National Assembly empowered all of them even more than they did their architects.

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Notes

1 I thank the Graham Foundation for funding this research. M. G. Siddiqui, typescript of tour notes, 1968, in “Dhaka PWD Notes, Corr. Procured by K. Ashraf 1994,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 152.

2 David B. Brownlee and David De Long (eds.), Louis I. Kahn: In the Realm of Architecture, Los Angeles, CA: Museum of Contemporary Art; New York, NY: Rizzoli, 1991; Sarah William Goldhagen, Louis Kahn’s Situated Modernism, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001, p. 162–198; Robert McCarter, Louis I. Kahn, London: Phaidon, 2005; and Mateo Kries, Jochen Eisenbrand and Stanislaus von Moos (eds.), Louis I. Kahn: The Power of Architecture, Weil-am-Rhein: Vitra Design Museum, 2012. For Dhaka see also Lawrence J. Vale, Architecture, Power, and National Identity, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992, p. 236–271.

3 Timothy Mitchell, The Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-politics, Modernity, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002, for the way in which western experts in developing countries reinforce their own authority at the expense of offering improvements to local practice.

4 Louis I. Kahn, address delivered in United States District Court for the eastern district of Pennsylvania at the Naturalization Ceremony, 6 October 1971, Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 147.

5 Susan G. Solomon, Louis I. Kahn’s Trenton Jewish Community Center, New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000 (Building studies, 6); and Susan G. Solomon, Louis I. Kahn’s Jewish Architecture: Mikveh Israel and the Midcentury American Synagogue, Waltham, MA: Brandeis, 2009 (Brandeis series in American Jewish history, culture and life).

6 Louis I. Kahn, letter to James Keough, 6 August 1973, copy in “Rabat 2,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 106.

7 Louis I. Kahn, “Remarks,” Perspecta, no. 9–10, 1965, p. 322. Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, New York, NY: The New Press, 1999, p. 139–144, for the link between the Ford Foundation and the CIA.

8 William H. Seward, letter to Culver E. Giddon, 12 March 1965, copy in “C. E. V.,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 58.

9 William J. R. Curtis, Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms, New York, NY: Rizzoli, 1986, p. 200–212; for the founding of NID see URL: http://www.nid.edu/institute/history-background. Accessed 10 February 2013.

10 The library at IIM is named after Sarabhai and the Management Development Centre after Lalbhai.

11 The Sarabhai family remains involved in the running of Gandhi’s former ashram. See URL: http://gandhiashramsabarmati.org/index.php/en/about-gandhi-ashram-menu/trustees. Accessed 28 March 2014.

12 MARG [Modern Architecture Research Group], “Architecture and You,” Marg, vol. 1, October 1946, p. 4–7.

13 Kathleen James-Chakraborty, “Architecture of the Cold War: Louis Kahn and Edward Durrell Stone in South Asia,” in Anke Köth, Kai Krauskopf and Andreas Schwarting (eds.), Building America: Eine große Erzählung, Dresden: Thelem, 2008, vol. 3, p. 169–182.

14 URL: http://cept.ac.in/6/establishment. Accessed 28 March 2014.

15 Kazi Khaleed Asraf, “Muzharul Islam, Kahn and Architecture in Bangladesh,” Mimar, vol. 31, 1989, p. 55–63.

16 Roy Vollmer, letter to Additional Chief Engineer, 30 June 1965, in “Pakcap – Correspondence to/from Roy Gus, October 8, 1964 thru June 30, 1965,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 117.

17 Kathleen James, “Indian Institute of Management,” in David Brownlee and David De Long (eds.), Louis I. Kahn, op. cit. (note 2), p. 368–372.

18 According to J. B. MacAllister, letter to M. G. Siddiqui, 22 August 1966, in “MacAllister’s Visit to Dacca Aug 66 II,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 116. Kahn’s office had run up $250,000 debt on the project by the middle of that year.

19 “Question Hour,” Dawn, 26 June 1965, p. 6.

20 Subrata Roy Chowdhury, The Genesis of Bangladesh, Bombay; New York, NY: Asia Publishing House, 1972, for a pro-Bangladeshi and Herbert Feldman, The End and the Beginning: Pakistan 1969–1971, London: Oxford University Press, 1975, for a pro-Pakistani interpretations.

21 Neil Thompson, letter to Henry Wilcots, 17 October 1968, in “Pac Correspondence To/Fr Gus, Jun 1968 thru Dec. 31, 1968,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Kahn Collection, Box LIK 117. See also Roy Vollmer’s letters in “Pakcap – Correspondence to/from Roy Gus, October 8, 1964 thru June 30, 1965,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 117.

22 Kahn as quoted in Richard Saul Wurman (ed.), What will be has always been: The Words of Louis I. Kahn, New York, NY: Accesspress; Rizzoli, 1986, p. 252.

23 Amit Srivastava, “Encountering Materials in Architectural Production: The Case of Kahn and Brick at IIM,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Adelaide, 2009.

24 Edward R. Ford, The Details of Modern Architecture: 1928–1988, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996, vol. 2, p. 305–335, for the gap between Kahn’s construction and standard American practice.

25 Maria Langford for Roy Vollmer, letter to David Wisdom, 30 June 1965, in “Pac Cap – Correspondence to/from Roy/Gus, Oct. 8. 1964 thru June 30, 1965,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 117.

26 Report by F. A. Faruqui & Day, Superintending engineers, appended to Ahmed, letter to Louis Kahn, 12 June 1964, in “Second Cap Pak/Pak Pu Wk Dept/ Correspondence 1964,” Box LIK 117, Kahn Collection.

27 Specifications, 2 April 1964, “Second Cap Pak,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 19A.

28 Henry Wilcots to David Wisdom, letter of 8 June 1967, in “PAC – Correspondence to/from Gus, Hune 1967 thru Dec 1967,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 117.

29 Nazimmudin Ahmed, “Architectural Development in Bangladesh,” in Robert Powell (ed.), Regionalism in Architecture, Singapore: Concept Media, 1985, p. 27–39, for the history of Bangladeshi architecture. For an example Kahn’s continuing influence there see the profile of Kashef Chowdhury in Catherine Slessor and Rob Gregory, “Emerging Architecture and Creative Resiliance,” Architectural Review, 23 November 2012. URL: http://www.architectural-review.com/home/ar-awards/ard-awards-for-emerging-architecture/emerging-architecture-and-creative-resilience/8639016.article. Accessed 11 February 2013.

30 Louis I. Kahn, undated typescript of presentation to Pakistanis in “Pakistan Correspondence - Misc.,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 120.

31 “Minutes of a Meeting held on 19 Jan. 1970,” in “PAK PWD Correspondence 1969,” Philadelphia (United-States), University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Louis I. Kahn Collection, Box LIK 117.

32 Louis I. Kahn, “Interview,” Perspecta, no. 7, 1961, p. 9–18, and Kathleen James, “Form versus Function: The Importance of the Indian Institute of Management in the development of Louis Kahn's Courtyard Architecture,” Journal of Architectural Education, vol. 49, 1995, p. 38–49.

33 Balkrishna Doshi in Richard Saul Wurman, What will be has always been, op. cit. (note 24), p. 271–273; William J. R. Curtis, “Authenticity, Abstraction and the Ancient Sense: Le Corbusier's and Louis Kahn's Ideas of Parliament,” Perspecta, no. 20, 1983, p. 182–194, and his “Modern Architecture and the Excavation of the Past,” in Mateo Kries, Jochen Eisenbrand and Stanislaus von Moos (eds.), Louis I. Kahn: The Power of Architecture, op. cit. (note 2), p. 235–252.

34 The most complete publication of the building before its completion appears in Romaldo Giurgola and Jaimini Mehta, Louis I. Kahn, Denver, CO: Westview Press, 1975, p. 130–149. The key American publication immediately afterwards was Bruno J. Hubert, “Kahn’s Epilogue, National Capital, Dacca, Bangladesh,” Progressive Architecture, vol. 65, December 1984, p. 56–67. It received an Aga Khan award in the 1987–1989 award cycles. Kazi Khaleed Asraf, “Muzharul Islam, Kahn and Architecture in Bangladesh,” op. cit. (note 17), and Kazi Khaleed Asraf and Saif Ul Haque, Sherebanglanagar: Louis I. Kahn and the Making of a Capital Complex, Exhibition Catalogue (Dhaka, Bangladesh National Museum, August 17–September 9, 2002), Dhaka: Loka Publications, 2002, p. 8, testify to the local pride in the final product.

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Note de fin

12 URL: http://mrinalinibiosketch.blogspot.ie/. Accessed 10 February 2013.

foot Sherrif Moloobhoy, “Offices and Stores for Calico Mills, Ahmedabad,” Marg, vol. 3, 1949, p. 14–16.

36 James Steele, The Complete Architecture of Balkrishna Doshi: Rethinking Modernism for the Developing World, London: Thames and Hudson, 1998.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: Indian Institute of Management, courtyard with faculty offices block on left and classroom block on right, Louis Kahn, Ahmedabad, India, 1962–1974.
Crédits Source: Wikipedia Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/​wikipedia/​commons/​3/​33/​Louis_Kahn_Plaza.jpg.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3385/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 36k
Titre Figure 2: National Assembly, Louis Kahn, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1962–1983.
Crédits Source: Wikipedia Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/​wikipedia/​commons/​thumb/​f/​fb/​Dhaka02.jpg/​1280px-Dhaka02.jpg.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3385/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 46k
Titre Figure 3: Mill Owner’s Association Building, Le Corbusier, Ahmedabad, India, 1951–1954.
Crédits Source: Wikipedia Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/​wikipedia/​commons/​a/​aa/​ATMA_House_186.jpg.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3385/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 86k
Titre Figure 4: Indian Institute of Management, Balkrishna Doshi, Bangalore, India, 1983.
Crédits Source: Wikipedia Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/​wikipedia/​commons/​thumb/​1/​11/​IIM-B_016.jpg/​1280px-IIM-B_016.jpg. Photo de Sanyam Bahga.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3385/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 72k
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Référence électronique

Kathleen James-Chakraborty, « Louis Kahn in Ahmedabad and Dhaka », ABE Journal [En ligne], 4 | 2013, mis en ligne le 01 juillet 2014, consulté le 25 septembre 2017. URL : http://abe.revues.org/3385 ; DOI : 10.4000/abe.3385

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Auteur

Kathleen James-Chakraborty

Professor of art history, UCD School of Art History & Cultural Policy, Dublin, Ireland

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La revue ABE Journal est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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