One step onto the courtyard of the Salk Institute and it feels like you're on the brink of infinity. The zen-like water fountain that flows through the middle of the plaza seems to empty into the Pacific Ocean, a symbol by iconic architect Louis Kahn designed to foster research, fascination and meditation.
A monumental work of art, no image does justice in conveying the sum of all of the parts of this space. Feeling the dynamic sense of light and shadow as the sun moves throughout the space, it is easy to see see how this place inspires the pursuit of a higher good through the melding of art and science.
Besides being an iconic building in the world of architecture, my favorite aspect of the Salk is the careful consideration given to it as a space for reflection and introspection. Most people don't mix the spiritual with science, but this space reveres both, acknowledging that going inward is another form of procuring knowledge and wisdom.
An interesting tidbit from our guide - almost all of the scientists at the Salk pursue an art form in their "spare" time...
Although a visit to the Salk is free, taking the tour is highly recommended. There is one each weekday starting at 11:45am and reservations can be made online. Not only are you able to access certain areas not allowed to the general viewing public, interesting details about the materials, methods and approach to the building enhance the experience of the space and the complex thought that went into it.
*Destination tip: The researchers' cafeteria is open to the public as well, and eating on the terrace overlooking Torrey Pines is not a bad way to spend the afternoon. It might be wise to pack a picnic of your choice. Afterwards, downtown La Jolla is a mere 6 miles away to explore, dine, shop, or stroll along the beach alongside the pelicans and sea lions.