Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Salk Institute

Speaking of Allan Temko, the late architecture critic for the SF Chronicle was a great fan of Louis Kahn, and he always spoke reverentially about Kahn's groundbreaking work on the Salk Institute in La Jolla. It's hard to get a real feel for the place from outside the gates, and I hate to be too critical without knowing what it's like to experience this building from within, or even inside the courtyard, but I can't say I really liked it. There's a lot to admire, of course, but the need for thermal stability within the labs and for security dictated a great deal of how this building looks, especially from without. And it's hard to look at it without seeing the prototype for so much bad institutional architecture that followed, and which copied its fortress-like poured-concrete exterior without achieving any of the grace that this building exhibits, or incorporating natural elements like wood so elegantly.

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