This is one of the greatest documentaries. So what’s My Architect: A Son’s Journey about? Here’s how the Guardian put it in 2004, a year after the film was released:
Very few architects could expect their death to make the front page of the New York Times. When Louis Kahn died in 1974, he was on his way back from Bangladesh, where he had been working on one of the greatest buildings of the 20th century, the new parliament in Dhaka. He was about to catch the train home to Philadelphia from Penn Station when he had a heart attack.
Louis Kahn’s son, Nathaniel, remembers reading the story in the New York Times as an 11 year old, and looking for his own name. It wasn’t there. As far as the newspaper was concerned, his father had only one child, a daughter. The young Nathaniel Kahn knew dimly that his father had three families. There was Esther Israeli, the wife who wouldn’t let Kahn go, or perhaps he couldn’t bring himself to leave her, and Sue Ann, their daughter, who got the name check in the Times. There was Anne Tyng, an architect who had worked in Kahn’s office, with whom he had a second daughter, Alexandra. And there was Nathaniel’s mother, Harriet Pattison, a landscape architect who fell in love with his father when she was working in his office.
Almost a quarter of a century later, Nathaniel Kahn started working on his first feature-length film, My Architect. It’s the remarkable story of the father he knew only as a series of disconnected memories. In America, it has been the surprise documentary hit of the year – nominated for an Oscar – and it is certainly the most personal.