In 1957, Jonas Salk, developer of the first safe and effective polio vaccine, began his quest to fulfill his second dream: create a collaborative environment where researchers could explore the basic principles of life and contemplate the wider implications of their discoveries for the future of humanity.
Gifted with 27 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean by the City of San Diego in 1960, Salk partnered with architect Louis Kahn to design such a research center. He summarized his aesthetic objectives by telling Kahn to “create a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso.
With financial support from the National Foundation/March of Dimes, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies opened its doors in 1963. In addition to Salk, the first Resident Fellows were Jacob Bronowski, Melvin Cohn, Renato Dulbecco, Edwin Lennox and Leslie Orgel. The Nonresident Fellows were Leo Szilard, Francis Crick, Salvador Luria, Jacques Monod and Warren Weaver.
The Salk Institute continues to be acclaimed by architecture critics as one of the world’s boldest structures. Completed in 1965 and now designated a historical site, the Institute fulfills founder Dr. Jonas Salk’s vision of a facility with open, unobstructed laboratory interiors set in a dramatic location that inspires creativity among its researchers. The Institute rests on coastal bluffs in La Jolla, California, 350 feet above the Pacific Ocean on a 27-acre site donated by the City of San Diego. Learn about their tour times here.
Salk is pleased to offer guided architecture tours, Monday through Friday with advance reservations. Visitors and groups of seven or smaller are permitted on campus Monday—Fridays between 8:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. with advance reservation. Visitors will be required to pay an online $7.50 fee to fund the Architectural Conservation Program before visiting campus. It is highly recommended that visitors register and pay online in advance. All visitors must check in with the security guard at the front gate upon arrival. A self-guided architecture tour map is available free of charge.