From the luxuriance of the Californian flora to the austerity of the Salk Institute. This research institute founded by Jonas Salk of polio-vaccine fame, was designed by Louis Kahn and built in 1963. There is no decoration, no signs of life, no sculpture, and no vegetation on most of the site. The only offset to the stark concrete is blackened and bleached wicker-like wood cladding. But the view of the ocean flanked by the wings suggests something like a Mayan Temple to Science: a mystical view of the ocean and the promise of great secrets divulged. On the plane home, my neighbour, who turned out to be a cryogenic physicist, told me that some scientists didn’t find it a good place to work. Perhaps a bit of that California colour would help.
I'm a writer whose interests include the biological revolution happening now, the relationship between art and science, jazz, and the state of the planet