You Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn

Wendy Lesser. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-0-374-27997-4
Lesser (Why I Read) doesn’t merely chronicle the life of Louis Kahn, who came to America from Estonia with his impoverished family and gradually muscled his way into the pantheon of the 20th century’s most celebrated architects. She also manages to let the reader vicariously experience Kahn’s architecture, interspersing this biography with elegant vignettes in which she walks through his most iconic structures. Her enthusiasm for Kahn’s architecture is infectious. Kahn began his professional career designing housing for destitute workers during the Great Depression, and his subsequent architecture projects (always public: museums, churches, libraries, and government buildings) were invariably designed in the egalitarian spirit of bringing beauty to all social classes. These palatial concrete structures were unmistakably modern, but they nevertheless owed much to Roman architecture, and, like the Colosseum, utilize natural light as a nearly palpable architectural element. Lesser breaks from a chronological narrative, instead beginning with Kahn’s death and ending with his childhood, where she finally divulges the story behind the scars that so cruelly marked Kahn’s face. Exhaustively researched and poetically written, Lesser’s book offers a fitting and eminently accessible tribute to an architect who so ardently sought to bring beauty to the public square. B&w photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2016
Release date: 03/14/2017
Ebook - 978-0-374-71331-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-5414-0071-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-5414-5071-4
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-250-15928-1
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-374-53763-0
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