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Louis I. Kahn Park

Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2018

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Kahn Park pays tribute to Louis I. Khan (1901-1974) who was one of the most influential architects of the late 20th Century. Trained in the Beaux-Arts method at the University of Pennsylvania, Kahn redefined architecture through the extraordinary use of mass, light and structure. Kahn Park is one of the few urban green oases between Washington Square and Rittenhouse Square.

Louis I. Kahn Park

About Louis I. Kahn

Louis I. Khan was a Philadelphia architect and educator of international acclaim. Born in Estonia, Khan emigrated in 1905 to Philadelphia, where he lived the rest of his life. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania where he later served with distinction as Cret Professor of Architecture. 

Louis I. Kahn

Buildings designed by Khan are seen throughout the United States, India and Bangladesh. His works exhibit a masterly handling of structure, materials (in particular reinforced concrete and brick), simple geometries and a visual concern for natural light. Architecture, Kahn said, is the thoughtful making of spaces. Khan’s most famous works confirm his guiding principles based on 3 human institutions: the school, the street, and the village green -- symbolizing respectively the human desire to learn, places for people to gather and the search for common goals. For Khan, the city was the assembly of these institutions and a potential source of inspiration for its citizens. He described the city as a place where children walking through its streets will sense what they would someday like to be.

Kahn’s office used to be in Center City near 1501 Walnut Street which has a historical marker noting the location (adjacent to the AT&T store).

About Louis I. Kahn Park

In 1971, the Greystone Luxury Hotel (formerly known as the Gladstone Hotel) was demolished to create the Louis I. Kahn Park on the site that is less than 1 acre in size.  The park originally consisted of a lot of hardscaping, primarily made out of concrete with little landscaping, which sparked its nickname as the “Concrete Park.” The park was later renamed in the memory of Louis I. Kahn, the accomplished Philadelphia architect, who lived with his wife, Esther, on Clinton Street, in very close proximity to the park.

Louis I. Kahn Park

In 1983, the Friends of Louis I. Kahn Park was started to improve the conditions of the park that had been described as “barren.” The Friends worked tirelessly to improve the park by creating a greener, more inviting design for Kahn Park. When the fountain was dedicated, Esther spoke about Lou’s preference for water complementing his architectural designs.  At the dedication of the fountain in Kahn Park, Esther remarked on Lou’s preference for water in or near his sites.

Louis I. Kahn Park

Kahn is best known for his inspirational works including:

Phillips Exeter Academy Library and Dining Hall
Exeter, New Hampshire

Yale University Art Gallery
New Haven, Connecticut

Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Capital of Bangladesh
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park
Roosevelt Island, New York

Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla, California

Kimbell Art Museum
Fort Worth, Texas

Insider Information

In addition to all of the international acclaim that Kahn has received, especially since his passing, there are some unique stories about various creative projects that tell the story of Kahn’s unbuilt Philadelphia and his professional challenges with City Planner, Edmund Bacon, who according to various accounts said, "It would have been an incredibly tragedy if they had built any of Lou’s buildings."

How to Get There

Kahn Park is conveniently located at 11th and Pine Streets. For guests of The Constitutional Walking Tour, Kahn Park is just a short 1.0 mile walk from the National Constitution Center. From the Constitution Center, head North on 6th Street and make a right on Pine Street heading West. Kahn Park will be on your right.

Additional Information

Louis I. Kahn Park
328 South 11th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107



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