At the end of his life, Kahn was almost willfully eccentric. His words were self-conscious in a way that his buildings never were, and he seemed to like being seen as a guru. It makes sense that he enjoyed going to India and Bangladesh. In Philadelphia, he had to cope with debts and three families clamoring for his attention, but on the subcontinent he was a prophet. He was a difficult, self-absorbed artist devoted to his work. He would go to his office at night and on holidays, perhaps not so much to escape domesticity but simply because his greatest passion was drawing buildings and thinking about what architecture means. His earnestness put him somewhat out of fashion for a while after his death, and even now it dates him more than anything else. “Did the world need the Fifth Symphony before it was written? Did Beethoven need it?” he asked. “He designed it, he wrote it, and the world needed it. Desire is the creation of a new need.” Kahn believed in designing for the ages, and he pretty much did. Only a few buildings in our time can be called sublime. Many of them—the Salk Institute, the Kimbell, Dacca—are Kahn’s.


Paul Goldberger
The New Yorker