Architectural Archives

Harriet Pattison Book Launch

Thursday, October 29, 2020 6:00pm
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Free admission; advance registration required

In conjunction with the publication of her new memoir, the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design welcomes distinguished landscape architect and alumna Harriet Pattison (MLA’67), FASLA, in conversation with her son, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn, and William Whitaker, curator and collections manager at the Archives. The event coincides with Pattison’s 92nd birthday.

In Our Days Are Like Full Years, published this month by Yale University Press, Pattison recounts her passionate and sometimes searing fifteen-year relationship with legendary architect and longtime Penn faculty member Louis Kahn. Married and 27 years her senior, Kahn sent her scores of letters—many from far-flung places—until his untimely death. This book weaves together Pattison’s own story with letters, postcards, telegrams, drawings, and photographs that reveal Kahn’s inner life and his architectural thought process, including new insight into some of his greatest works, both built and unbuilt. What emerges is at once a poignant love story and a vivid portrait of a young woman striving to raise a family while forging an artistic path in the shadow of her famous partner.

Pattison was Kahn’s romantic partner from 1959 to 1974, and his collaborator on the landscapes of the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, and the F.D.R. Memorial/Four Freedoms Park, New York. Her distinguished 40-year career is documented in the Harriet Pattison Collection at the Architectural Archives, and was the subject of a 2016 exhibition at the Kroiz Gallery of the Architectural Archives entitled Harriet Pattison: Gardens and Landscapes.

Paul Goldberger says of the book, “Part memoir, part collection of letters, part architecture treatise, and part love story, Harriet Pattison’s Our Days Are Like Full Years takes you inside the architect Louis Kahn’s mind and, even more, inside his heart. This is the saga of a devil’s bargain with a saint, and it is at once poignant and triumphant. Pattison has written a magnificent book, filled with warmth, elegance, insight, and grace.”

In celebration of Pattison’s birthday, the first 10 people to register will be eligible to receive a complimentary copy of Our Days Are Like Full Years.

Presented in partnership with Yale University Press.

If you require any accessibility accommodation, such as live captioning, audio description, or a sign language interpreter, please email news@design.upenn.edu to let us know what you need. Please note, we require at least 48 hours’ notice. If you register within 48 hours of this event, we won’t be able to secure the appropriate accommodations.