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.
“[An] affecting and informative memoir.”—Alex Beam, Wall Street Journal
“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
“[A] warm and elegant account – splendidly illustrated with drawings, photographs, and facsimiles of correspondence”—Arquitectura Viva, 2020
“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