Film: My Architect: A Son's Journey

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My Architect: A Son's Journey

Director: Nathaniel Kahn
Distributor: New Yorker Video

A riveting tale of love, art, betrayal and forgiveness—in which the illegitimate son of a legendary architect undertakes a worldwide exploration to discover and understand his father’s and the personal choices he made.

Louis I. Kahn is considered by many historians to have been the most important architect of the second half of the twentieth century. While Kahn’s artistic legacy was a search for truth and clarity, his personal life was secretive and chaotic. His mysterious death in a train station men’s room left behind three families—one with his wife and two with women with whom he had long-term affairs. The child of one of these extra-marital relationships, Kahn’s only son Nathaniel, sets out on a journey to reconcile the life and work of this mysterious man.

Revealing the haunting beauty of his father’s monumental creations and taking us to the rarified heights of the world’s celebrated architects and deep within his own divided family, Nathaniel’s personal journey becomes a universal investigation of identity, a celebration of art and ultimately, of life itself.


One nonfiction film that truly creates a narrative journey, My Architect is filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn’s engrossing search for his father. Louis Kahn, one of the most celebrated architects of the 20th century, died in 1974 and left behind a highly compartmentalized life, including two children born out of wedlock to two mistresses. Nathaniel interviews the members of this somewhat puzzled family, but his deepest experiences are visits to the buildings that his father made (such as the grand Salk Institute in La Jolla, California), culminating in an emotional trip to Bangladesh. Here, Louis Kahn designed a massive government complex, a soaring achievement (and fascinating paradox—a Muslim capital designed by a Jewish man). This film asks: where does an artist truly live? In his life, or in the work he leaves behind? Nathaniel Kahn takes an amazingly even-tempered approach to this, given his personal stake in the story, and the result is a uniquely stirring movie. —Robert Horton

Related Works

Album:My Architect: A Son's Journey: Soundtrack

My Architect: A Son's Journey: Soundtrack

Joseph Vitarelli

Joseph Vitarelli’s (The Last Seduction, She’s So Lovely, Commandments) lush, orchestral score evokes a contemplative, playful, and sometimes haunting reflection of filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn’s journey to piece together the life of his absent father, renowned architect Louis I. Kahn.

The My Architect soundtrack also features two vocal performances: the devotional “Call to Prayer” (a striking solo by a Muslim muezzin recorded on location at the mosque in Kahn’s monumental National Assembly Building of Bangladesh) and the celebratory Hebrew hymn “Hayom Tamtzeinu” rendered with fervor by a cantor originally from Kahn’s home city of Philadelphia. Included also on the soundtrack is a taped snippet of Louis Kahn himself in the visionary moment captured in a track called “The Brick.”

The documentary My Architect was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and won the hearts of audiences and critics alike, placing it on a large number of best film of the year lists.

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