April 10, 2006


Salk News


La Jolla, CA – On April 10, 2006, the Salk Institute revealed the latest version of its Master Plan Update. This long-term development plan will serve as a blueprint for the growth and development of the Institute for the next 50 years. The updated plan stays true to the original vision for the campus developed by Jonas Salk and Louis Kahn, and will allow the Institute to remain a world leader in the rapidly evolving world of basic medical research.

“This plan will make it possible for my father’s initial dream for the campus to become a reality,” said Dr. Peter Salk, son of Jonas Salk. “It will permit completion of an environment that supports innovative research, broad thinking and creativity, and will extend the Institute’s capacity to make contributions to humanity.”

The Institute needs to update its master plan to provide for new facilities that will aid its research and help it remain competitive with other top scientific institutions. These facilities include increased space for laboratory-based scientific research and shared core facilities, a daycare center for the children of Salk’s employees and expanded space for administrative support, much of which is currently off-campus in rented space.

“The Master Plan Update is critical to the future success of the Institute,” said Dr.
Richard Murphy, President and CEO of the Salk Institute. “It will allow the Institute to stay on the cutting edge of scientific discovery by providing increased research space and it will provide badly needed support facilities for the Institute and its employees.”

The plan was carefully designed with environmental, historic and architectural preservation in mind. The result is a plan that is beneficial to the environment and respectful of the architectural and historic integrity of the original building and plan for the campus. The plan proposes to add additional quality habitat to the adjacent Multiple Habitat Preserve Area (MHPA) preserve, and the developments that are proposed have no impact on environmentally sensitive steep slopes and the off-site coastal canyon.

Jack MacAllister and David Rinehart, both of whom were leaders on Louis Kahn’s design team for the original building and master plan, are the principal designers of the Master Plan Update. Recognizing the architectural and historical significance of the original laboratory building and courtyard, they designed the plan to preserve the iconic view to the west from the courtyard and ensure that the original Kahn-Salk laboratory buildings are not impacted by any new facilities.

MacAllister says that Kahn’s original intent for the site was a low-density campus with three distinct elements that harmonized with the surrounding environment.

“Like the original vision, the updated plan maintains the tripartite scheme with distinct areas that work together to form a cohesive campus,” MacAllister said. “The design is intended to provide space that fulfills the functional needs of the Institute, facilitates the work and collaborations of Salk’s scientists, and permits all employees to be located together on the Salk, which was Jonas Salk’s dream.”

The plan consists of three distinct campus centers: The Science Center on the east mesa consists of the original Kahn-Salk laboratory building, the East building (constructed in 1995) and the proposed Torrey East building. The Meeting Center on the northwest mesa would incorporate meeting rooms, dining facilities, and space for the operational and administrative departments of the Institute. The Support Center on the southwest mesa includes a daycare center for the children of Salk’s employees and twelve units of temporary housing for visiting scientists.

Since its founding in 1960, the Salk Institute has served as one of the primary catalysts or San Diego’s thriving biotechnology industry. Discoveries made by Salk scientists have led to important advancements in diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and HIV/AIDS. The Institute’s scientists have also founded 21 companies based on their scientific discoveries, many of which are located in San Diego.

Joseph Panetta, President and CEO of Biocom, San Diego’s biotechnology trade organization, believes that approval of the Master Plan Update is important to the local biotechnology community.

“The success of our industry is significantly impacted by important discoveries made at the Salk Institute and other leading research facilities,” said Panetta. “It is important that they have the ability to grow and respond to changes in science to allow their important work to continue.”

Panetta also noted that many of the region’s important scientific institutions are being lured to other parts of the country with promises of government subsidies and inexpensive land. “It is critical that we do our best to serve the needs of the scientific facilities we have, and certainly the Salk Institute is a leader among them.”

The Master Plan Update is currently being reviewed by the City of San Diego, and a draft Environmental Impact Report for the plan is expected to be released for public review later this year. The final decision on the plan will be made by the San Diego City Council.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, located in La Jolla, Calif., is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, the improvement of human health and conditions, and the training of future generations of researchers. Jonas Salk, M.D., founded the institute in 1960 with a gift of land from the City of San Diego and the financial support of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.

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