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My Architect (2003)

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Director Nathaniel Kahn searches to understand his father, noted architect Louis Kahn, who died bankrupt and alone in 1974.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Edmund Bacon ...
Edwina Pattison Daniels ...
Aunt Eddie
Balkrishna Doshi ...
Himself (as B.V. Doshi)
Frank O. Gehry ...
Philip Johnson ...
Louis Kahn ...
Himself (archive footage)
Nathaniel Kahn ...
Sue Ann Kahn ...
Richard Katz
Teddy Kollek ...
Harriet Pattison ...
Priscilla Pattison ...
Aunt Posie
I.M. Pei ...
Moshe Safdie ...
Robert A.M. Stern ...


World-famous architect Louis Kahn (Exeter Library, Salk Institute, Bangladeshi Capitol Building) had two illegitimate children with two different women outside of his marriage. Son Nathaniel always hoped that someday his father would come and live with him and his mother, but Kahn never left his wife. Instead, Kahn was found dead in a men's room in Penn Station when Nathaniel was only 11. Nathaniel travels the world visitng his father's buildings and haunts in this film, meeting his father's contemporaries, colleagues, students, wives, and children. Written by Martin Lewison <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A man. His buildings. His secret life. See more »


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Official Sites:



Release Date:

12 November 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

My Architect  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$37,929 (USA) (14 November 2003)


$2,748,981 (USA) (30 July 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Louis Kahn: How accidental our existences are, really, and how full of influence by circumstance.
See more »


Referenced in Match Point (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

An inspirational journey through the live and work of Louis I. Kahn
17 March 2007 | by (The Dutch Mountains) – See all my reviews

On March 17, 1974, a man is found dead in the toilets at Manhattan's Penn Station. Although well-known, he cannot be identified because he scratched out the personal information in his passport and his body lays unclaimed at the city's morgue for three days. It turned out to be the body of what many consider one of the greatest American architects of the twentieth century, Louis I. Kahn. He died at the age of 73, on his way from India, where one of his greatest projects, the Institute for Management in Ahmedabad, was nearing completion.

One of the most influential post-war American architects, Louis Kahn's architectural legacy includes the house of parliament in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Kimbell Art Museum in Forth Worth, the Yale Art Gallery, the Salk Institute in California and a kind of mobile "music boat", designed to give concerts in harbours in various cities around the world.

While celebrated as an architect, very little was known about his private life. In addition to his wife Esther, and their daughter, Sue Ann, Kahn was survived by two mistresses, Harriet Pattison and Anne Tyng, and their two children. All three families lived within miles of each other in suburban Philadelphia, but their paths never crossed until the funeral. His son, Nathaniel, the director of this film, was only 11 years old at the time, and had only a few memories of his father's weekly visits at Harriet Patterson, Nathaniel's mother, in Philadelphia. Twenty-five years later, he sets out on a journey to confront his father by visiting Kahn's buildings, talking to relatives and colleagues and visiting the places that played a role in Louis Kahn's life.

One of the most moving confrontations is when Nathaniel asks his mother, a landscape architect and mistress of Louis Kahn, why she kept up with playing second fiddle to his wife and never confronted him with this. Tears shed her eyes, but she has no regrets. "It was worth it." It's such an intensely sad moment. She's obviously shattered, treated as an outcast at his funeral, which she was forbidden to attend, it's almost as if she led a substitute life. It all feels strangely unreal. Another interview with Edward Bacon, Kahn's architectural nemesis, who was in charge of the rebuilding of his native Philadelpia in the fifties and sixties, almost suffers a stroke on the spot, when he is reminded of Kahn's unsavoury ideas about architecture. His son, Nathaniel, listens uncomfortably when a very senior Bacon literally screams with anger whenever Kahn's name comes up. The final scene is reserved for Kahn's grandest creation, the Capitol in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It took 23 years to complete, a vast and extraordinary building, of which the Bangladeshi are extremely proud. It's one of the very few national symbols with stature in this impoverished nation. Some of the interviews with the locals brought tears in my eyes, especially when they find out they are talking to - God forbid - the architect's own son!

The film is as much a personal journey as it is an account of Kahn's grand architectural legacy and is above all about the fruition of the film itself and film-making in general. Perhaps Louis I. Kahn faltered as a father, but these shortcomings in his personal life make for an all the more interesting portrait in this extraordinary film.

Camera Obscura --- 9/10

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