I visited Salk Institute this summer. It's a masterpiece of late modernist architecture (1959-1966) by architect Louis Kahn. Progressing from the International Style, he believed buildings should be monumental and spiritually inspiring. Kahn was commissioned to design the Salk Institute in 1959 by Dr. Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine. Salk’s vision included a facility with an inspiring environment for scientific research.
Before designing, Kahn referenced and pstudied monasteries in order to build his concept of an “intellectual retreat.” With a prime location in La Jolla, California and bordering the Pacific Ocean, Kahn took advantage of the site’s tranquil surroundings and abundant natural light. His scheme became a symmetrical plan, two structures mirroring each other separated by an open plaza.
The materials that make up the Salk Institute consist of concrete, teak, lead, glass, and steel. The concrete was poured using a technique studied in Roman architecture. Once the concrete was set, he allowed no further finishing touches in order to attain a warm glow in the concrete.
The open plaza is made of travertine marble, and a single narrow strip of water runs down the center, linking the buildings to the vast Pacific Ocean. Your view is then directed towards nature, reminding you of your scale compared to the scale of the ocean. The strip of water also enhances the symmetry intended in the plan and creates a sense of monumentality in the otherwise bare open plaza that is meant to be in the words of Luis Barragan “a facade to the sky.
Words: ArchDaily's and mine