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My Architect
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My Architect (2003) More at IMDbPro »

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My Architect -- Trailer for this documentary about mysterious architect, Louis Kahn


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Nathaniel Kahn (writer)
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Release Date:
12 November 2003 (USA) See more »
The secret life of architectural genius Louis Kahn See more »
Director Nathaniel Kahn searches to understand his father, noted architect Louis Kahn, who died bankrupt and alone in 1974. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 7 wins & 4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Mesmerizing Portrait of an Artist By a Son See more (34 total) »


Edmund Bacon ... Himself
Edwina Pattison Daniels ... Aunt Eddie
Balkrishna Doshi ... Himself (as B.V. Doshi)
Frank O. Gehry ... Himself
Philip Johnson ... Himself
Louis Kahn ... Himself (archive footage)
Nathaniel Kahn ... Himself
Sue Ann Kahn ... Herself

Haym Richard Katz ... Richard Katz
Teddy Kollek ... Himself
Harriet Pattison ... Herself
Priscilla Pattison ... Aunt Posie
I.M. Pei ... Himself
Moshe Safdie ... Himself
Robert A.M. Stern ... Himself
Alexandra Tyng ... Herself
Anne Tyng ... Herself
Shamsul Wares ... Himself

Directed by
Nathaniel Kahn 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Nathaniel Kahn  writer

Produced by
Susan Rose Behr .... producer
Andrew S. Clayman .... executive producer
Simon Egleton .... line producer
Phyllis Freed Kaufman .... associate producer (as Phyllis Kaufman)
Andrew Herwitz .... associate producer
John Hochroth .... associate producer
Nathaniel Kahn .... producer
Yael Melamede .... co-producer
Judy Moon .... associate producer
Original Music by
Joseph Vitarelli 
Cinematography by
Robert Richman 
Film Editing by
Sabine Krayenbühl 
Production Management
Simon Egleton .... post-production supervisor
Sound Department
Travis Call .... sound re-recordist
Shane Gillette .... sound recordist
Jan McLaughlin .... sound mixer
Greg Smith .... sound editor
Steve F.B. Smith .... stereo sound consultant: Dolby
Tony Volante .... sound re-recording mixer
Visual Effects by
Brian Scott Benson .... digital effects artist
Karen DePrizio .... computer animator
Karen DePrizio .... restoration artist
Luke DiTommaso .... visual effects
Jennifer Russomanno .... title designer
Keith Yurevitz .... digital artist
Camera and Electrical Department
Claudia Raschke .... additional cinematographer
Jonathan Rho .... additional cinematographer
Román Viñoly .... additional cinematographer
Editorial Department
Benjamin Murray .... colorist
Benjamin Murray .... on-line editor
Music Department
David Low .... orchestra contractor
Tracy McKnight .... executive soundtrack producer
Tracy McKnight .... music supervisor
Alysia Oakley .... assistant to music supervisor
Allan K. Rosen .... music editor
Nicholas Viterelli .... music editor
Other crew
Matthew Roseman .... production assistant
Sally Steele .... publicist

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
USA:116 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:PG | Netherlands:AL | Switzerland:7 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:7 (canton of Vaud) | UK:PG

Did You Know?

Louis Kahn:How accidental our existences are, really, and how full of influence by circumstance.See more »
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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful.
Mesmerizing Portrait of an Artist By a Son, 25 January 2004

Documentaries in which sons and daughters seek to understand a parent and, by the process, their own lives are not that uncommon. Also not uncommon are results that reflect lack of talent, a failure of introspection, an abundance of narcissism and, perhaps, an unsubtle quest for publicly-splashed revenge for countless past hurts, real and fantasized. What is unusual is a brilliant, fair and engrossing portrait of a fascinating parent and "My Architect: A Son's Journey" is that rare achievement.

Louis Kahn emigrated to this country as a child, his face irreparably and brutally scarred by an accident. He and his parents settled in Philadelphia where the talented youngster loved art and music. Soon he became enamored of buildings and decided only an architect's career would answer his creative abilities.

Kahn became an architect but as this film shows it took a long time before he attracted the attention of the leaders in his field. One architect suggests that he was a victim of the "yellow armband," that anti-Semitism that along with bias against women was long a disreputable aspect of the American profession of architecture.

When he did achieve notice, he was seen, clearly accurately, as a self-assured, workaholic prophet exclaiming unyielding demands that his vision and only his vision be realized. That inflexibility was the reason that while he drew wonderful plans for many buildings he built but a few. The interview with an aged gentleman who fired Kahn in Philadelphia because of his unacceptable dream of a transformed urban center where people left their cars on the perimeter and walked into the city is hilarious.

Kahn was a born teacher and some of the extensive archival footage here shows him with students, his voice steady but passionate, their gazes respectful and intense.

Many architects were interviewed by director, writer and project honcho Nathaniel Kahn, the architect's only son. Some are world famous - I. M. Pei, Robert A.M. Stone, Moshe Safdie, Frank Gehry and the still active nonagenarian, Philip Johnson. Their comments paint a vivid picture of this idealistic but in the end financially unsuccessful designer of buildings that blended the castles, fortresses and grand buildings of past centuries into designs for the present. Kahn's buildings are shown, among the most impressive being the Salk Research Laboratories in La Jolla, CA. To me his style has a neo-Romantic air deadened by too much blank space that repels rather than attracts human interaction.

But Kahn's son was after more than the story of his father, the architect. For many years Louis Kahn had three families: a wife with whom he had a daughter and two long-term relationships, one of which produced a daughter, the other the son. Kahn visited his son at the mother's home often but at the end of an evening mother and son would drive Kahn back to the marital home. Nathaniel clearly wanted to know about this unusual set of relationships but he doesn't appear to be scarred by what was certainly a strange affair for a little boy.

When Nathaniel was a young boy Louis Kahn died of a massive heart attack in the men's room of New York's Pennsylvania Station after returning from India where he had pitched one of his massive projects, another one that was never built. At that point his Philadelphia firm was at least $500,000 in debt and had he lived a trip to the federal bankruptcy court was probably in the offing.

Kahn left several monumental structures of which the government building in Bangladesh is clearly the biggest. A teary local architect hails Kahn for having created a building where democracy may (and hopefully will) flourish.

Fellow architect Moshe Safdie opines that there might have been something fitting in Kahn's suffering a mortal heart attack in a train station given his incessant globetrotting. I disagree: it's sadly ironic that Kahn should die in the faceless replacement for one of America's true architectural gems, the old Pennsylvania Station, wrecked to make way for a sterile replacement with no character and no continuation of civic memory.

There are a number of emotional moments filmed during the younger Kahn's journey, including with his half-sisters and his mother, but they're genuine and moving, not maudlin and staged. Historians of architecture will always study Kahn. His son found reasons to remember him as a flawed but very iconoclastic and ultimately private man.


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