I finally got to see a building I had long admired in San Diego. After seeing the eye opening documentary about architect Louis Kahn, ‘My Architect’; The Salk Institute in La Jolla was always on my bucket list of architecture. Although they have tours, you need to book in advance, and I hadn’t. You can still tour the plaza over looking the Pacific high up on a bluff. I came into the property from below and was underwhelmed by the patio furniture the lunch crowd must enjoy. The carved stone chairs were the architect’s minimal answer to basic seating. I wonder if Louis ever specified the lower area to be a cafeteria, and what chairs he wanted there. Seems like a silly designer to worry about this detail, but this building is so austere and contemplative, the metal tables and chairs are distracting. I’m sure I would feel different if I worked there.
The new classic concrete building that has just replaced the Salk in my bucket o’ buildings, is in Tel Aviv. The The Herta & Paul Amir Building, Tel Aviv Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen represents the kind of building Kahn could not have imagined in the 60’s. Made possible by computer modeling and advancing concrete construction into a very special place.