Louis I. Kahn Collection, University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)


Drawing of space to be preserved.

Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1966-72, by architect Louis I. Kahn, part of the collection to be preserved by the Save America’s Treasure grant.  Photo courtesy of the Louis I. Kahn Collection, University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Louis I. Kahn is one of the twentieth century’s most important and renowned architects, the subject of more than 100 books and many discussions in architectural and academic circles.  In both his completed buildings – such as the National Assembly Building in the capital of Bangledesh – and his unbuilt projects, there is a fusion of modernism with historic forms that sets him apart from his predecessors.

The Louis I. Kahn Collection at the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania is the most comprehensive collection of Kahn’s work, with 6,363 of Kahn’s drawings, 29,813 developmental and working drawings from his office, 100 models, 12,140 photographs and slides, and 150 linear feet of his correspondence.  It provides an opportunity for continued analysis of Kahn’s contributions to architecture, as well as his development as an artist.  Because of poor storage, heavy research use, and its unstable nature, however, the collection of personal drawings, construction drawings, and sketchbooks is quickly deteriorating. 

In FY 2005, the University of Pennsylvania received a Save America’s Treasures grant of $70,000 to help preserve this important resource.  Save America’s Treasures grants are provided for organizations undertaking preservation and conservation work on nationally significant intellectual and cultural artifacts and nationally significant historic structures and sites.  Conservators at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts will treat and re-house all of the items in the Louis I. Kahn Collection.  This conservation process, while protecting this important resource, will increase the collection’s accessibility for research by students, scholars, practitioners, and laymen, and also make it easier to exhibit the work, both at the Architectural Archives’ Kroiz Gallery and on loan to other institutions worldwide.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)