Louis Kahn: the Salk Institute and Kimbell Art Museum

Topics: Louis Kahn, Kimbell Art Museum, Salk Institute for Biological Studies Pages: 4 (1151 words) Published: February 12, 2008
Louis Kahn was a genius beyond his time. His idea of silence and light separates his architecture from anyone else in history. The ideas spawned by his work challenged many theories before and beyond his time. He used plainness, light and location to shape the design of his buildings. Another concept that was heavily practiced by Kahn, was the use of served and servant spaces. The servant spaces usually housed the lighting, plumbing, and any other entity that made the building functional. On the other hand, the served spaces were the rooms like the laboratories and study rooms which are given functionality through the servant spaces (Manrique, 11/08/04). This concept was practiced through out most of Kahn's career, but is most notable in his ingenious designs of the Salk Institute and Kimbell Art Museum. The Salk Institute located in La Jolla California is of the most unusual nature. The building is set up into two large towers separated by a large concrete courtyard. The building is arranged in this way because one side of it faces the ocean and Salk wanted every scientist to have view of the ocean (Silence and Light, 1997). The floors of the towers alternated between floors used for lab work and floors used for studying. This separation promoted a boundary between labor and contemplation. The Vierendeels used to create a column-free transverse plan created "full-height loft spaces for pipe and ductwork" (Stoller, 6). These loft spaces were hidden behind large triangles on the ceiling and act as the servant to the labs and studies below. Every room was arranged in this manner creating an overall plan of "servant spaces atop spaces served" (Steele, 15). These servant spaces act like "the arteries, veins and nervous system giving life to the cerebral function of the laboratories and studios" (Stoller, 6). Another example of a servant space is in the way Kahn opened the base of the towers. The openness of the base floors serves as an arcade to the...

Bibliography: Brawne, Michael . Kimbell Art Museum. London: Phaidon P, 1992.
Louis Kahn [videorecording] : silence and light / produced and directed by Michael Blackwood. New York, NY : Michael Blackwood Productions in association with Saarländischer Rundfunk, c1997
Steele, James . Salk Institute. London: Phaidon P, 1993. 10-20.
Stoller, Ezra . The Salk Institute. New York: Princeton Architectural P, 1999. 1-12.
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