Inside SCI-Arc


Eric Kahn, Longtime Design Studio Professor, Passes Away

The SCI-Arc community was saddened to learn about the passing of longtime professor and architect Eric A. Kahn, who died at the age of 58. A senior design studio faculty at SCI-Arc for 25 years, Kahn was instrumental in educating many generations of SCI-Arc students, with whom he generously shared his deep love for architecture and drawing.

A memorial for Eric Kahn will be held at SCI-Arc on Friday, July 11, 1-2pm, in the Keck Lecture Hall.

"Eric Kahn was a powerful and enduring intellectual and emotive presence at SCI-Arc," said Eric Owen Moss in an email to the SCI-Arc community. “His strong and compelling voice for the primacy of architecture, his idiosyncratic drawings compiled over many years, his struggle to understand the context of the Holocaust and to give it a tangible architectural form, his dedication to teaching, his intimate partnership with our long time faculty member, Russell Thomsen, and of course his devotion to his family and to his parents—all in our hearts.”

Kahn was one of three founding members of IDEA Office, formerly the Central Office of Architecture. He originally opened the office in 1987 together with fellow architects Ron Golan and Russell N. Thomsen. In 2009, he renewed his long-standing partnership with Thomsen to form IDEA Office. Their work includes design at all scales, from graphic design to installations and industrial design, to architecture and urban planning. Recent works included a permanent installation at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and a new building at West Los Angeles College. The work of IDEA Office has been published in numerous journals and books, and a monograph of the work of COA was published in 1998 as part of the Contemporary World Architects series.

Kahn was an essential ingredient of SCI-Arc for several decades. Within the Media Archive, he can be glimpsed in 1991, discussing his work with Russell Thomsen and Ron Golan at COA. And then with Thomsen again in 2010, where they discuss their work as Idea Office.

Kahn’s installations and work included theoretical urban proposals for Los Angeles in Spaces In-Between, exhibited at UCLA; Dynamic of the Metropolis, exhibited at Tokyo’s Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan; RE: American Dream, exhibited at Barnsdall Arts Gallery and UCLA; and selected writings which discuss the condition of architecture and the city. The work of IDEA Office is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco.

Kahn held a Bachelor of Architecture degree from California Polytechnic State University and worked at firms including Florence-based Superstudio, Morphosis, and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, before founding IDEA Office. His book, The Anatomy of Observation was published by SCI-Arc Press in 1998.

As Professor Kahn would instruct us: There will be music again.