Site Visit: Louis Kahn's Salk Institute

 The money shot.

The money shot.

I first heard about Louis Kahn back in 2000, my first year of architecture school. Soon after, he became one of my favorite architects for his use of concrete and wood and the monumentality and sculpture-like quality of his designs. Sixteen years later, I finally made the pilgrimage to his famous Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. 

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies was established in the 1960s by Jonas Salk, the developer of the polio vaccine. The complex of research buildings is punctuated by multiple 40'x25' light wells that extend to the basement level to bring natural light into the labs. Lining the travertine plaza are offices for the researchers, all with views of the Pacific Ocean. Louis Kahn asked famous Mexican architect Luis Barragan for his input on the plaza, and Barragan told him to add "not one plant or flower, but a single water feature" instead. 

You can book architecture tours through the Salk Institute website. If you can't make it to La Jolla, CA anytime soon, I took plenty of photographs for you to enjoy:

 A grove of trees outside the complex of research buildings.

A grove of trees outside the complex of research buildings.

 Corridor for the research labs.

Corridor for the research labs.

 Detail shot of the elegant water drainage.

Detail shot of the elegant water drainage.

 Kahn played with a lot of geometric shapes throughout the buildings.

Kahn played with a lot of geometric shapes throughout the buildings.

 Symmetry is a theme.

Symmetry is a theme.

 Teak was left untreated to weather with age and the elements.

Teak was left untreated to weather with age and the elements.

 Flanking the plaza.

Flanking the plaza.

 More recently replaced teak can be seen on the building to the left.

More recently replaced teak can be seen on the building to the left.

 The water feature in the plaza ends in a beautiful aqua lap pool. 

The water feature in the plaza ends in a beautiful aqua lap pool. 

 Window detail.

Window detail.

 The beautiful stairwells.

The beautiful stairwells.

 More research labs with the light wells to the right.

More research labs with the light wells to the right.

 Below the pool is a waterfall and lounge area facing the Pacific Ocean.

Below the pool is a waterfall and lounge area facing the Pacific Ocean.

 Love the sculptural quality of the geometric seating.

Love the sculptural quality of the geometric seating.

All photos by Christine Lin.