Teachers | Antonio S. Rio Vázquez

Photography: Kahn / Komendant: Faculty of Chemistry of Virginia’s University (1963)

«When the students had put his ideas on the paper, Kahn was helping them with his critiques, which were direct and of the maximum value. Often there were energetic and interesting discussions between the teachers of engineering and of architecture when the concept, the solutions and applications of a project in I make concrete they were different. The students were listening, were learning and even they were taking part in these animated debates, were amusing themselves and trying to provoke them when they saw some possibility of changing the routine of work and of happening awhile devilishly well».

August Komendant: 18 años con el arquitecto Louis I. Kahn

Only some few of the big modern architects had a direct relation with the ruled education, extending his teachers’ condition to that of teachers. And even less they obtained the recognition on the part of his pupils. Louis I. Kahn was one of them, and to know part of his experience as teacher – lived in the University of Pennsylvania— we it owe teacher to his collaborator in several projects and also in the courses of doctorate, the engineer August E. Komendant.

Komendant wrote one of the most interesting book about Kahn, principally for a direct testimony of the work offering us with the architect, moving away from the mixtificación that was forged later concerning his figure, and that serves to know better and to value his quality as professional and as teacher.

The last chapter devotes itself to remember the years shared in the university, where Kahn was raising the academic projects of the following way:

«There was no program, only they were giving themselves some information referred to the needs and a delivery time. The students had free hand to elaborate his own programs and a calendar to be established»1.

In other one of his texts, taken of the conversaciones with the students of Rice, it affirms that «programmes» es is a too boring word:

«It is a question of understanding the nature of a set of spaces where it is good to do something in concretly»2.

For Kahn the university had to be the most important institution of the city:

«Growth and quality, is the measure of the city, and will be felt in the operation , attitudes and morale. Today, the interests and wishes of professionals have expanded and diversified greatly , but there is no place where professionals from different fields can meet and make public their views»3.

This idea was not preventing that he was proving to be a critic with certain aspects of the university teaching, as those schools of architecture that teachers had «without dedication neither to the education nor experience and with a level of knowledge below the minimum»4. The teacher had to be essentially someone who not only knew things, but he was feeling things, «that can reconstruct the universe simply in spite of a filament of grass looks»5, I leave writing.

Komendant was insisting on the relevancy that should have the university inside the company and was defending two fundamental aspects in any professional activity, specially significant in the higher education: the knowledge and the inspiration:

«In a university, an institution for the top learning, the knowledge has a more wide meaning; it includes, besides the knowledge fáctico, the comprehension of what the truths and the facts mean. It is necessary to to teach and prepare the student in order that he thinks for yes same»6.

The attention was calling the engineer the dedication that Kahn was granting to the university. In spite of it purified that was his economic situation and of the pressure of the period that had in his professional study, always was happy and encouraged in his classes. And when Komendant was asking him how it was capable of obtaining it, it was answering him:

«When I am with my pupils and teach architecture to them, I am happy and forget everything else»7.

Antonio S. Río Vázquez . Doctor architect
A Coruña. january 2015

1 August Komendant, 18 years with the architect Louis I. Kahn (Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Galicia, 2000), p. 241
2 Louis I. Kahn, Conversations with students (Gustavo Gili, 2002), p. 30
3 Komendant, op. cit., p. 240
4 Komendant, op. cit., p. 250
5 Kahn, op. cit., p. 67
6 Komendant, op. cit., p. 225
7 Komendant, op. cit., p. 252

Antonio S. Río Vázquez (A Coruña, 1981) es arquitecto por la E.T.S.A. de A Coruña, master en Urbanismo y doctor por la Universidade da Coruña. Especializado en teoría y diseño, su línea de trabajo se ha centrado en la investigación y divulgación del patrimonio arquitectónico moderno. Ha desarrollado proyectos de modo independiente y ha colaborado con varios estudios de arquitectura. Es socio fundador de Aroe Arquitectura. Es profesor en el Departamento de Proyectos Arquitectónicos, Urbanismo y Composición de la Universidade da Coruña, y ha sido profesor invitado en la Robert Gordon University de Aberdeen (Reino Unido), en la Universidade do Minho (Portugal) y en la Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza (Italia). Es miembro de la red UEDXX Urbanism of European Dictatorships during the XXth Century, del Grupo de Investigación en Historia de la Arquitectura IALA y del Grupo de Innovación Educativa en Historia de la Arquitectura. Ha formado parte del proyecto de investigación FAME Fotografía y Arquitectura Moderna en España, 1925-1965. Los resultados de sus investigaciones, tanto personales como conjuntas, han servido como aportación a eventos de debate y difusión científica y han sido publicados en libros y revistas.

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