Luis Barragan (1902-1988), one of Mexico’s greatest architects, is known for his use of bright colors that reference the traditional architecture of Mexico. Luis also consulted for many international architects on landscape design including Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute, and was particularly gifted with integrating outdoor spaces with their interior counterparts, incorporating water features throughout. Now that we’re in full summer mode, it seems especially timely to share some of Luis Barragan’s colorful work!
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:
All photos by Christine Lin.