✱ The Salk / by Evan Troxel

The Salk

This is the first post in an ongoing series I'm calling Monumental Architecture

My wife and I went down to La Jolla a few weeks ago and did a small architecture tour while on our getaway. I brought my camera and made some photos so I thought I'd share (because that's what I do!). We visited four buildings in and around La Jolla, California that I'll be putting here on the blog in separate posts as I get through the images. I posted some of my iPhone shots on my Instagram feed but these are from my main camera and haven't been shown until now, and I'm really happy with how they've turned out.

First up is the Salk Institute for Biological Studies by the master, Louis Kahn, which was built in 1962. Check out the Wikipedia page for more information and for the history of the project. Be sure to read the part about the courtyard design and the link to Luis Barragan, which I was not aware of until recently. What a great piece of the overall story.

The slide show here documents our walk around the outside of the complex. Why only the outside? It turns out they only do official tours on weekdays, and we were there on a weekend so all of the gates were locked. Believe me, I tried to get a special tour set up but they didn't know who they were talking to, obviously. But no matter, now I have a reason to go back once again.

It wasn't my first time visiting but each time I've been fairly awestruck. The external views of the buildings were still amazing even though we didn't get inside. What Louis Kahn pulled off is an amazing place, to say the very least. I'm sure some (non-architecty) people don't think it looks like much but you really should experience it to see what I mean. You owe it to yourself to get a sense of the gravity of this place that is perched on an amazing bluff overlooking the Pacific.

One of the true tests of whether a building is "architecture" for me is what I call the Look Up Test... In that if it makes me look up, it's grabbed my attention and imagination enough that it's probably a great piece of architecture.

So I present to you my images. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I had making them. Click on one to start the slide show, and check out some additional drawings I've included down at the bottom of the page.

Here are a few plans I googled to give you a sense of the overall complex. Click to embiggen:

And finally a couple of book recommendations for Kahn's work that include the Salk Institute: