One of the world’s most famous works of modern architecture is located in San Diego. I’m referring to the Salk Institute building in La Jolla. Its designer was Louis Kahn, considered to have been one of the most important, innovative architects of the 20th century.
An exhibition now running at the San Diego Museum of Art takes a thorough look at the remarkable life, work and genius of Louis Kahn.
Last weekend I was given a personal tour of the amazing exhibit and found myself completely blown away by its scope. The photos, films, sketches, notes and architectural models, including a life-size portion of an extraordinary house–even works of art produced by Louis Kahn himself– were too much for my mind to absorb in one visit.
Kahn was undoubtedly a genius. His unique modern structures seem like ancient timeless monuments, made beautifully functional. They are simultaneously complex and simple. They are geometric, symmetric, modular, clean. They seem solid but light-filled. They contain unusual surprises of line, curve and angle. They are iconic.
Louis Kahn had a long, prolific career. His work can be found throughout the world, and includes the enormous, citadel-like National Assembly Building of Bangladesh. Some of his more famous creations in the United States include the Kimball Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, the library at Philips Exeter Academy, the Norman Fisher House in Philadelphia, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, and, of course, San Diego’s own remarkable Salk Institute.
There is so much to see in this impressive exhibit–there were so many amazing designs produced by Kahn during his productive lifetime–that I can’t begin to cover it all in this blog. So I must direct you to the San Diego Museum of Art’s website. To get a small hint of what you will discover at the museum, you might want to check out the Wikipedia article on Louis Kahn.
This weekend I headed up to La Jolla to see if I could snap some good photos of Louis Kahn’s very famous Salk Institute building. Walking around, I managed to photograph the exterior, but I was unable to access the interior courtyard. So I’ve included one photo from Wikimedia Commons, just to provide a quick idea. Peering through a fence, I did glimpse some scaffolding in the interior area, so I suppose that would have nullified my photographic attempts, anyway.
The Salk Institute building’s walls are made of smooth exposed concrete. While this material might appear stark, the monumental appearance, the intriguing shapes and architectural symmetry are absolutely impressive. There is a mathematical, complex interaction between shadow and light that is difficult to describe–and quite beautiful.
Want to see more of Kahn’s brilliant work? Head over to the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park before this special exhibition closes on January 31, 2017.
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