Our Days Are Like Full Years


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A Memoir with Letters from Louis Kahn

Harriet Pattison

View Inside Format: Hardcover
Price: $24.95
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An intimate glimpse into the professional and romantic relationship between Harriet Pattison and the renowned architect Louis Kahn

On a winter day in 1953, a mysterious man in a sheepskin coat stood out to Harriet Pattison, then a theater student at Yale. She would later learn he was the architect Louis Kahn (1901–1974). This chance encounter served as preamble to a fifteen-year romance, with Pattison becoming the architect’s closest confidante, his intellectual partner, and the mother of his only son.
Here for the first time, Pattison recounts their passionate and sometimes searing relationship. Married and twenty-seven 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.

Harriet Pattison, FASLA, is a distinguished landscape architect. She was Louis 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. She is the mother of their son, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn.

“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.”—Paul Goldberger, author of Why Architecture Matters

“A lovely romance with . . . a very nice integration of text and visuals.”—Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

Our Days Are Like Full Years is not a bitter or angry book. It is a memoir of [Kahn and Pattison’s] times together, moving and heroic (on her part) as well as troubling.”—Rowan Moore, The Guardian

“Most captivating are Pattison's words. Her prose is clear, readable, and full of revealing details that do more than just narrate the letters from Kahn.”—A Daily Dose of Architecture Books

“Fascinating and richly-illustrated”—The Cultural Landscape Foundation

“[An] affecting and informative memoir.”—Alex Beam, Wall Street Journal

“A gorgeous book.”—Martin C. Pederson, Common Edge

“Kahn scholars and enthusiasts will lap up the wealth of drawings and insights, but there’s a lot more here . . . this is Pattison’s time to make her presence felt.”—JoAnn Greco, Pennsylvania Gazette

“A fascinating and richly-illustrated new book . . . From the prologue to the final pages, the book is a generous and very personal gift from Pattison.” —Places Wire

“A handsomely illustrated volume . . . salted with photographs, sketches, and her own memories . . . provides new pieces of the Kahn puzzle.”—Cathleen McGuigan, Architectural Record

“[A] revealing memoir . . . [as] a professional landscape architect who has collaborated with numerous architects including Kahn himself (the Kimbell, the FDR Memorial), Pattison is well equipped to discuss Kahn’s professional life and his art.”—Brooke Allen, New Criterion

“[A] warm and elegant account – splendidly illustrated with drawings, photographs, and facsimiles of correspondence”—Arquitectura Viva, 2020

“Pattison’s take on the memoir productively diverges from the form to be a meditation on place, persona and the remnants of a fully lived life. I was as enthralled by her prose as I was by the inclusion of matter (letters, notes, photographs and scraps alike) that often make up the unseen corpus of an archive, be it personal or institutional. [Her memoir] is a model for the field.”—Courtney Martin, Director, Yale Center for British Art, in The Art Newspaper
ISBN: 9780300223125
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
448 pages, 8 x 10
234 color + 113 b/w illus.