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Louis Kahn

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Review

By Joseph Rykwert. Photographs by Roberto Schezen. Abrams, 2001. 224pp. £52 When the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art organised its major touring retrospective of Louis Kahn in 1991, Rizzoli published a splendid catalogue - Louis I Kahn:

I n the Realm of Architecture (by DavidBBrownlee and DavidGDe Long). With authoritative essays, detailed project descriptions, and high-quality photographs of selected works, it set the standard by which any later book on Kahn would be judged, writes Andrew Mead .

Joseph Rykwert's name adds lustre to this new volume from Abrams, published on the centenary of Kahn's birth, but his contribution is minimal. After an introduction devoid of new information or insights, he seldom devotes more than two or three paragraphs to any scheme.

So the book stands or falls on Roberto Schezen's new photographs, in both colour and black and white. They document 15 of Kahn's buildings, the same ones featured in the Rizzoli book but with one addition - the Olivetti-Underwood Factory - and sometimes do so more fully. We see clearly how the Fisher House relates to its site, go inside the Performing Arts Center in Fort Wayne, while detail and the broader view are kept in balance.

Many of these new images are excellent, which makes it the more surprising that those of the Salk Institute are lacklustre, and those of the exterior of the Yale Center for British Art, frankly poor. Nor does the coverage of the Kimbell Museum come close to that in the Rizzoli book. At £52, such blemishes count.

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