San Diego Sites: The Salk Institute For Biological Studies, Modern Architecture in San Diego
Coming from New York City to San Diego has been quite the transition. Some days I just miss wandering through the vast city and gazing up at the skyscrapers and seeing the amazing architecture that fills the city. So, when I heard that San Diego had its own little piece of famous architecture, the Salk Institute, I couldn’t wait to go and check it out, plus I went right at sunset, which made the architecture stand out even more.
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is an architectural dreamboat by Louis Kahn. The building is minimalistic but mesmerizing with its use of cement contrasted with the natural element of water flowing from the front of it, which leads out to the viewpoint, towards the coast. The cement is also complemented with wood throughout the building, which gives an amazing contrast to the stark white, and at the golden hour, when we visited, the bright oranges with the whites and brown wood made for an architectural spectacle.
There’s something enchanting about a building that’s created with few materials and that is a stark contrast to its environment. I used to think cement buildings were ugly, and I do think in certain contexts they are (cough D.C. cough), but since this building is so symmetrical and so steril with flashes of the natural, i.e. the literal stream separating the architecture, visiting this building makes me feel like I’m in a different place than San Diego, and dare I say, even a different country. There’s just something about it that feels different.
Being a place known for beaches and surfing and those things that make California amazing, I like the change of pace and finding this gem. It’s famous, and you can see it from the road, but actually parking and walking through the grounds feels different, and I like that about it. It feels like a work of art, feel like more than just another building in another city.
Check out my photos below and make sure you visit it for a different take on San Diego. You can also do a tour of the inside, which I haven’t done yet, but plan on it! But rumor on the street is that there’s private beach access and that the building provides surfboards for all the employees go surfing during lunch breaks, and after work, so it’s a pretty cool place to boot. Maybe not what you’d expect from a stuffy academic institution :P.