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The Logic of Assembly
What can architecture ultimately achieve? It offers a place for people to meet, work, and live together and creates institutions that establish a sense of identity. While this notion guided Kahn’s early preoccupation with urban planning in Philadelphia, it reached its culmination in Kahn’s latest and largest projects in India and Bangladesh—both city-like complexes.

“What a Building Wants to Be”
Like people, building components also meet, work, and connect. Architecture is about the assembly of archi­tec­tural volumes and spaces and their arrangement within a floor plan. For Kahn, the initial question involved “what a building wants to be.” By grouping parts, either on a symmetrical axis or around a central point in a seemingly arbitrary manner, an answer begins to crystallize. The process can take years. The Inter­national Style favored open, flowing, and polyvalent spaces. Kahn worked with distinctive rooms as elements of a potentially open-ended system, as in the Trenton Bath House and Community Center (1954–59) and in Erdmann Hall at Bryn Mawr College (1960–65). Elsewhere he let units of different size form a loose agglomeration, as with the project for the Dominican Motherhouse of St. Catherine de Ricci in Media, Pennsylvania (1965–69).

“Servant” and “Served” Spaces
Kahn created a hierarchy of spaces within an overall form. He distinguished between “servant” and “served” spaces, starting with an all-encompassing order as a generative system for the layout that contains technical installations, utility systems, and circulation areas in a building.

House, Neighborhood, City
In the Anglo-Saxon tradition, the idea of the neighborhood is a central feature of urbanism. Planning is about forming a neighborhood. Kahn’s architecture reflected that spirit. A church (Unitarian Church, Rochester, New York, 1959–62), a university campus (Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, 1962–74), and a capital complex (Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1962–83) were designed to facilitate a maximum of open-ended interactions among people.