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Louis Kahn '65 - Salk Institute

Practice

Louis Kahn


Project Architect / Lead Partner


BUILDING

Salk Institute


City

California


Country

USA


Commissioned


Construction

1959


Completion

1965


Duration

6


YY

65


CLIENT

Jonas Salk


CONSULTANTS



Storey

6


CO2


STATUS

Completed


PROGRAM

Education + Research


Amount


Currency


GBP


ARCHITECT'S

The Salk Institute was established in 1960 by Jonas Salk, MD, developer of the first safe and effective polio vaccine. Salk selected world-renowned architect Louis I. Kahn to design the research facility he envisioned would contribute to the betterment of humankind. Salk directed Kahn to create spacious, unobstructed laboratory spaces that could be adapted to the ever-changing needs of science. The building materials had to be simple, strong, durable, and as maintenance-free as possible. Kahn’s masterwork consists of two mirror-image structures—each six stories tall—that flank a grand travertine courtyard. Three floors house laboratories and the three levels above them provide access to utilities. Towers jutting into the courtyard provide study space for senior faculty. Towers at the east end contain heating, ventilating and other support systems. At the west end are six floors of offices overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A total of 29 structures join to form the Institute. The impact of Kahn’s architecture can be particularly felt in the travertine courtyard. Important to note are Kahn’s imaginative use of space and high regard for natural light. In response to Salk’s request that the Institute be a welcoming, inspiring environment for scientific research, Kahn flooded the laboratories with daylight. On the laboratory levels, he built all the exterior walls out of large, double-strength glass panes to create an open, airy work setting. Local zoning codes restricted the height of the buildings so that the first two stories had to be underground. This did not, however, prevent the architect from bringing in daylight: he designed a series of light wells 40 feet long and 25 feet wide on both sides of each building to bring daylight into the lowest level. (© Salk)

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