Inside Salk; Salk Insitute

Tours de force

Architecture Tours

Tour guides Cynthia Burke, Conrado Gallardo, Kendall Mower, Lily Robinson, Ellen Zimmerman (not pictured- Don McKahan)

In 1959, Jonas Salk challenged Louis Kahn to "create a facility worthy of a visit by Pablo Picasso," and the architect did exactly that. Today, in recognition of the architectural masterpiece Kahn designed, people from around the world flock to the Salk Institute to experience and pay homage to his vision and achievement. And guiding these visitors for nearly 40 years have been scores of volunteers, who have shared their passion for the Salk's architecture on thousands of walking tours.

Year round, Monday through Friday at noon, a group of dedicated men and women lead the curious, the enthusiastic, the inspired and the reverent in and around the iconic structures, sharing their own unique perspectives about the famous buildings. Drawing on a wealth of knowledge, they take visitors on a journey through the Institute's past, present and future, often sharing anecdotes about memorable experiences and people from past tours.

There was the famous Japanese architect, for example, who came with an interpreter but surprised the guide when he declared in English, "I am renewed!" There was the German engineer who was moved to tears. And the awestruck third grader who found himself contemplating a new career path after visiting the Institute, unable to decide whether to become an architect or a professional athlete, to mention just a few.

The Salk architectural tour is about more than concrete, glass and steel. It's about energy and people. It's about imagination and ingenuity. And it's about the enthusiasm and knowledge the guides pass on to their tour groups, leaving them with indelible memories and unique insights that just may change the way they view the world.

The Salk Institute offers free guided architectural tours Monday through Friday at noon. Reservations are required a minimum of two business days in advance of the date requested and can be made online at architecture_tours.html. For additional information, call 858-453-4100, ext 1287.