“I sense Light as the giver of all presences, and materials as spent Light. What is made by Light casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light.” — Louis Kahn, a great American architect.
I had the privilege of working on a research lab project for The Medicines Company in beautiful Torrey Pines, San Diego. Just as the sun was setting, I would often visit the nearby Salk Institute for Biological Studies designed by Louis Kahn. Located on a spectacular site overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Kahn’s masterpiece creates inspiring spaces for scientists to conduct research. Its plaza, courtyards and buildings capture the grandeur of the sky, ocean and nature in all of their splendor.
Undeniably, the Salk Institute’s relationship to light is visually impactful and experientially powerful. The buildings and spaces capture the light, allowing the ever-changing qualities of light, water, atmosphere and space to coalesce as a sensory delight, feeding both the mind and spirit.
Louis Kahn: Architecture with a mystical dimension
As one of the great modern architects of his time, Kahn was known for his poetic approach to design in the forms and spaces he created and his teachings of design principles. His language and message had spiritual, even mystical dimensions, especially when he spoke of his favorite topics: light and materials. The quote above speaks to Kahn’s philosophy on light, which was transcendent for him for its power to engage man and nature and transform the way we see ourselves and our community.
As Kahn captured light in his designs, let us bring more light into our lives, especially in these challenging times. No matter what our personal and professional endeavors may entail, let us transcend this moment as we inspire and elevate humanity to new levels of compassion and resilience.