Recently, I have had a lot of opportunity to travel to a variety
of locations around the country. Some of these locations give you very little in the way of scenery, other give you almost overwhelming amounts. My trips to southern California usually fall into the latter.
Last month I was invited to attend a conference hosted by Health Dimensions Group in San Diego. Since I had not been there since I was a kid traveling with my family, I was quite eager to go. The idea of exchanging the late winter weather in New Jersey for a few days of SoCal had nothing to do with it...
While planning the trip I realized that I would get the chance to experience one of those places that most architects want to experience, kind of a ‘Mecca for Architects’ - the Salk Institute by Louis Kahn. Kahn was a Philadelphia architect who taught almost all of my professors, so his indirect influence on me (and many other architects of my generation) has been great over the years. I have had the pleasure to experience a lot of his work, but the Salk is arguably his seminal work. It was the culmination of an exploration of many ideas and concepts, from using daylight and natural ventilation to designing an efficient workplace. For me, it is his highest and best work.
Jonas Salk, in case you did not know (or forgot) developed the first successful vaccine for polio in the early 1950’s. Following that monumental success, Salk decided to found a research institute to further his work. The then current mayor of San Diego, himself a survivor of polio, convinced Salk to locate the institute on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean and just outside of the town of La Jolla.
Salk and Kahn joined forces in the 1959 to conceive of a plan for a setting and a facility that would attract the best researchers of the time. The design promoted open communication and collaboration between disciplines and teams. It also split the facility according to the need varying levels of privacy by placing the lab spaces into the core of the buildings and pulling the private studies into the courtyard and giving all of them direct views of the landscape and seascape beyond. This is what Kahn called ‘served and servant’ spaces.
The entire morning the weather was a bit overcast, but unbelievably, when we got to the Salk, the clouds broke and the sun started shining rather brightly. Thankfully I was able to get some photos that really accentuate the design.
A newly planted Valencia orange grove that replaced a lime tree grove, lines the entry sequence.
And then there are those points of view/experiences that are so hard to capture with a camera...
All in all, the trip was a great success. I got to spend some quality time with my lovely wife (who chided me for being an archi-nerd), met a lot of interesting people and got to see a great piece of architecture and did not even have to sit in any of that SoCal traffic!
I hope you enjoy ~ Rich
The craftsmanship is pretty impressive:
The stairs are darkly sculptural- similar to the African objects the Dr. collected. They are also very noisy and hollow sounding- not so good:
Reclaimed boardwalk planks were used in the great room. The floor felt wierdly spongy:
The gallery gates:
Photography is verboten in the galleries, and the guards are aggressive, but I did manage to get a shot of the classroom furnished ala Nakashima:
A little bit of Ando in Philadelphia:
The plaza-setback-skyscraper has become such a cliche these days, but back in 1958 it was a radical design. The elegance of Mies' design has held up, even on days when it is barren (the face off with McKim Meade White's Club across Park):
Everything here is so crisp and thought out:
On a snowy day:
The south side entrance:
My aimless walk from MoMA took me past some buildings that I had seen many times before, and it was a nice surprise to find this one open. St Bartholemew's Church was design by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue in 1913 (with a front portico designed by Stanford White). A byzantium landmark on Park Avenue:
The narthex houses the church shop and has amazing mosaic ceiling vaults:
It was pretty dim in the sanctuary, but still quite remarkable:
The mix and match columns at the choir:
The baptismal chamber adjacent to the altar:
The chapel on the south side- wow:
Once upon a time, I used to work on 54th Street near 5th Ave. This was long before the stores, the gates at the intersections, Apple Store, and the crowds. I walked by St Thomas Church countless times, but never went in:
It was a true joint design by Cram & Goodhue (Ralph Adams Cram & Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue) in 1906, although some think Cram was the main designer. I remember when the exterior was cleaned in the mid '80s with a water spray system- for weeks, the runoff left stone dust on the sidewalks.
Entry into the narthex is instant soothing quiet:
The aisle on the side lot line:
The reredo is just spectacular and was designed by Goodhue and carved by Lee Lawrie:
All stone, no steel here:
Our new project for Mighty Quinn's, on the corner of 2nd Ave. and 6th Street New York City, has begun construction and is moving along quickly. This front window will soon be a glass overhead door:
The building has an interesting footnote in rock history, as the Fillmore East was the neighboring building. A well know fire occured in our building, in 1968, causing the abrupt ending of a concert by The Who:
Grand opening is planned for around Thanskgiving. Jusrt outside the front door is a "historic marker" for the Fillmore created by the wonderful Jim Power, The Mosaic Man:
As for the Fillmore, not a trace remains:
From the Baltimore Museum of Art, a mix of effigies from bygone mesoamerican, african and oceanic cultures. They have so much character- perhapsinspiration for a future Pixar movie:
His sculpture "Carnegie" outside the Carnegie Museums:
The gap in the plates:
No joke, this is what the area of northen Vermont is refered to. Some impressions of a week at lake Willoughby, no internet, no phone service, great biking, great hiking:
Paintings by Brian Brooks: