The Salk Institute was founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk. Jonas worked directly with the brilliant architect, Louis Kahn, to design laboratory spaces that were open, spacious, and adaptable to the ever-changing needs of science. The materials needed to be simple. Materials that were durable, strong, weather-resistant, and easily maintained. Materials, such as concrete, steel, glass, antique.
The buildings Kahn design were opened in 1965 and today house 50 laboratories. These buildings serve a dual role as cultural icon. They’re modernist masterpieces is revered by the architectural community, and they’re also home to one of the world’s premier institutions for biomedical research, with transformational discoveries coming in fields such as neuroscience, plant biology, cancer, infectious diseases, and diabetes.
Kahn’s masterpiece consists of two symmetric buildings that surround the travertine courtyard. When you come into that space through the east gate and look to the west, you can only look to the west, to the presidium formed by the boundaries of Kahn’s building in the travertine courtyard, whereupon the sun moves across the sky, the most important act of nature in our world. And these buildings are devoted to the study of nature. It truly is a cathedral for the study of these phenomenal.