What we say is often less telling than how we say. A turn of phrase—a pause—a hesitation—a nervous flurry of words, all reveal a state of mind, a sensibility, a personal position in the world. What we see is often more potent than what we are told. An atmosphere or attitude—an object or landscape—can convey a powerful visual message about the way things are in the world. What we learn is often not a matter of fact, but a manner of being, a way of thinking.
It is this less articulate message which carries clues to “the personal” to which Kahn refers. “Can you recognize the personal in a man’s work?” implies an ability to note or care for something subtle, something singular in a person’s work. In this book, we have asked architects to contribute statements and visual work which document their inspirations and attitudes toward making architecture.
Their response arrived to us over the past few years in two parts: as typed notes, brief statements, tapes, and interviews—simple candid thoughts about temselves; and as photographs, colorful drawings, and video—images which carried some heartful meaning outside of words. Happily, it was a collection of material as diverse as the personalities that shaped it. Given our interest in the design process, as a personal activity,it was precisely the diversity of the written and visual responses of the contributors that was so encouraging. It was in this spirit that the book took shape; that our understanding of process was not about a broad interest in intuition or method but about the singularity of every person.
The essays are presented as a collection of discrete installations. The final form of each contributor’s essay grew, quite naturally, from its particular written and visual message—and it was the “installation” or act of locating this message, exploring how we read and see within the silent structure of the page, that began to note, or reveal, the “personal” in each contributor’s work.
These essays believe in the power of personal vision and the singularity of that vision in the process of perceiving, transforming, and building a world outside of oneself. They are words and images which explore and listen to the values and energies in the human person—and per sonare means precisely a “sounding” or “saying through"—which cannot be revealed through analytic means. These essay-installations hope to provide access to such intimations—intimations which, if outside reason, are nonetheless instinctual to us all.
Louis I. Kahn—Berkeley Lecture, 1966
Ellen Morris—"Looking Back at Berkeley: Kahn in Context"
Ed Levin—"The Berkeley Lecture: A Postscript"
Jean Nouvel—"Doctrines and Uncertainties"
Gunter Behnisch—"For an Open Architecture"
Adèle Naudé Santos—Excerpts from a Conversation
Aldo Rossi—"Architecture, furniture and some of my dogs"
W.G. Clark—"Lost Colony"
Phillippe Barriere and Sylvia Lavin—Interview with Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi
John Keenen, Terence Riley and Barry Bergdoll—"Tectonic Collage"
Deborah Berke, Carey McWhorter and Peter Halley—"Invisible Architecture"
Margaret Helfand, Marti Cowan and Paola Iacucci—"Reflection"
Patricia Patkau, John Patkau and Kenneth Frampton—"Tecto-Totemic Form: A Note on Patkau Associates"
Thomas Leeser and Hani Rashid—"Twisting Strings: Of Zweifalt and Doubts"
Joseph A. Burton—"The Aesthetic Education of Louis I. Kahn, 1912-1924"