Sara Lardinois and Laura Matarese, 2019

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In 2015, we convened a meeting with the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania to discuss the conservation of exterior wood elements at buildings designed by Louis I. Kahn. The meeting brought together Kahn experts, conservation and architectural professionals and students, wood scientists, and site managers and owners to share information with the intent that the collective knowledge and expertise may benefit and potentially improve current and future projects at these sites. This publication summarizes the outcomes of our discussions.

The meeting participants assessed the heritage significance of the exterior woodwork at buildings designed by Kahn; discussed philosophical and practical conservation challenges, policies, and potential solutions; and identified areas for future research, training, and dissemination. Discussions focused on the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, and the Steven and Toby Korman House in Whitemarsh Township, Pennsylvania, which were both in the midst of conservation projects at the time of the meeting; detailed case studies for each of these sites are included at the end of the report. Two sidebars in the report give details about the Norman and Doris Fisher House in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, and the Class of 1945 Library at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Using these sites, among a handful of others, as our starting point, we looked the significance of Kahn's design intent, philosophy, use of materials, and detailing and how it has in some cases fueled decay. In developing conservation solutions for these sites, it is necessary to strike a careful balance in preserving the significance Kahn's original design and materials with other factors such as the current use, the site stewards' wishes, material availability, code requirements, and what is possible in the environment where the buildings are located.

The meeting was organized as part of the Salk Institute Conservation Project, part of the Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative.

How to Cite this Work
Lardinois, Sara, and Laura Matarese. 2019. The Buildings of Louis Kahn: Conserving Exterior Wood: An Experts Meeting Organized by the Getty Conservation Institute and the Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania, May 12-13, 2015. Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute.