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Unbuilt Ruins

Flavia Sparacino , MIT, USA


Session: Exhibits

Between 1959 and 1961, Louis Kahn used a series of fascinating unbuilt projects - particularly the American Consulate in Angola, the Meeting House of the Salk Institute, and Mikveh Israel Synagogue - to work out and test his new ideas. In these projects, Kahn developed elements later found in his built work: a configuration of space as discrete volumes, complex ambient light and shadow, a celebration of mass and structure, the use of materials with both modernist and archaic qualities, monumental openings uncompromised by frames, and Kahn's concept of "ruins wrapped around buildings." At the end of the 60's he created what is perhaps the clearest expression of this link to the old world - the Hurva Synagogue for Jerusalem. Finally, the unbuilt Palazzo dei Congressi in Venice prefigured a significant change in direction, as evidenced by his last major built work, the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven.

This 3D exhibition attempts to shed light on the eternal mystery of how Louis I. Kahn came to make the architecture he did, by looking in depth at projects left unbuilt. The exhibition features radiosity-based, hyper-realistic computer graphic renderings of 8 unbuilt masterworks of Louis I. Kahn: U.S. Consulate for Luanda, Meeting House of the Salk Institute, Mikveh Israel Synagogue, Memorial to Six Million Jewish Martyrs, Hurva Synagogue (first, second and third proposals), and the Palazzo dei Congressi. The exhibition incorporates sophisticated digital technology (computer graphic simulation, 3D printing of digital models, and computer vision tracking). It combines this with a seemingly non-digital interface (physical models moved like chess pieces) and high-resolution analog images (rear-projected 35mm slides.