Louis Kahn Salk Institute Architecture Tours


Location: Torrey Pines (15 Miles / 20 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego)

Weekday Tours: 12PM – 1PM

Cost: Free

Features: Tour one of Louis Kahn’s most important architectural works, the Salk Institute

louis-kahn-salk-la-jollaHighlights of Salk Institute’s Louis Kahn Architecture: Architectural critics describe Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute as one of the boldest structures in the world. The facility is included on the American Institute of Architecture’s list of ‘Structures of Our Time: 31 Buildings That Changed Modern Life’.

The Salk Institute’s architecture was designed to last the test of time yet have the adaptability to serve the changing needs of the world’s leading scientists and Nobel Laureates. The construction design needed simplicity yet fit aesthetically overlooking one of the most beautiful coastal landscapes in the country. Dr. Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine, challenged Louis Kahn to “Create a facility worthy of a visit by Pablo Picasso” and as a result, visitors now come from around the world to tour this modern architectural masterpiece.

What to Expect

Daily tours attract architects and those who just have an interest in architecture or Louis Khan. The buildings were designed to take advantage of San Diego’s mediterranean climate with open-air stairwells and hallways. So, be sure to bring a light jacket if it is a cooler day, especially when there is an onshore breeze from the Pacific Ocean. (Learn more about San Diego Weather.)

The tour will cover everything from the philosophy (light, silence, order) to the functionality (an extra interstitial space between each floor of laboratories allows the flexibility to rearrange lab space) to the outdoor grounds, which were designed to represent the circularity of existence. (To learn more about Kahn’s philosophy and approach, read his book Between Silence and Light: Spirit in the Architecture of Louis I. Kahn.)

The tour is relatively easy but does include stairs and the option to look inside the interstitial space between floors. Anyone with an interest in architecture should really take advantage of this opportunity to tour what architectural critics call one of the greatest works of our time.


Information on Visiting the Salk Institute on Torrey Pines

Reservations – Visitors are required to make a reservation at least two days in advance.

Directions from Google Maps to 10010 North Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla, CA 92037. (You will receive detailed parking instructions with your tour reservation confirmation. If you have trouble finding a parking spot, look for street parking along the north side of the facility on Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, which leads to the Torrey Pines Gliderport.)

Traffic – Traffic is moderate during the weekday lunch hour on North Torrey Pines Road. The Salk Institute is adjacent to the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) so keep your eye out for pedestrians. (Learn how to get the latest traffic updates.)

Transit – Buses do drop passengers off on North Torrey Pines Road in front of the Salk Institute.  (See San Diego Transit Information for bus schedules and information for the online Transit Planner.)

Nearby Attraction – After the tour, walk (or drive) to the beach cliff and watch paragliders float along the coastline while you enjoy lunch at the Gliderport Grill. You can also go parasailing when you visit the Torrey Pines Gliderport.

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: Architecture, La Jolla |

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