An Intersection

Water in Louis Kahn's Landscape


  • Nubras Samayeen


This interlocutory research examines American Modernist architect Louis Kahn's (1901-1974) works through the lens of landscape design. This research emphasizes the materiality and design instrumentally of water in Kahn's designs that have significant landscape work and explores the reverberating relationship between architecture and landscape. From the late 1950s to his death in 1974, Khan produced his most important works, which include: the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (1959-S5) in La Jolla, California; the Kimbell Art Museum (19SS-72) in Fort Worth, Texas; and the National Assembly Building Complex (19S2-83) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. All of these selected works with major waterscapes have been heavily influential in the architectural world. The key questions that the paper explores are: How does the water (waterscape) act as an intersect? What role does water play? How is water a cultural connector? These questions are explored via interviews, conversations, empirical and spatial studies of the selected sites, and archival scholarship that includes study of existing drawings and literature. This paper looks at water primarily as an intersectional element that not only acts as the interface of architecture and landscape, but also helps in creation of "contact zones” and a controlled topographic catalyst. Use of water also creates a link between the East and the West, the local and the global, colonial and native, Islamic and non-Islamic, as well as the seen and unseen, expanding to the perception of real and unreal. Holistically, my research creates a bridge between the larger discourse of different cultures, theory, and a cross practice of disciplines.




How to Cite

Samayeen, N. (2019). An Intersection: Water in Louis Kahn’s Landscape. ARCC Conference Repository, 1(1). Retrieved from