Salk This Way

Salk Institute launches architectural endowment focused on historic preservation

Preservation West
The Salk Institute has announced the creation of its Architecture Conservation Program, which is designed to address the ongoing preservation of the Institute's landmark headquarters building by Louis Kahn. (Courtesy Salk Institute)
The Salk Institute has announced the creation of its Architecture Conservation Program, which is designed to address the ongoing preservation of the Institute's landmark headquarters building by Louis Kahn. (Courtesy Salk Institute)

The Salk Institute announced yesterday that it is launching a new preservation-focused endowment called the Architecture Conservation Program, which will be designed to facilitate the restoration of the Institute’s Louis Kahn–designed headquarters in La Jolla, California.

The announcement comes as the Institute completes work on limited conservation efforts aimed at restoring the nearly-60-year-old complex. For the project, architects Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. of Pasadena, California replaced and rebuilt the building’s iconic teak wood exterior paneling systems. The $9.8 million restoration was funded by the Getty Conservation Institute’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative and will extend the lifespan of those components by another 50 to 70 years, according to a statement. The organization also recently completed a comprehensive conservation management plan for the complex that was funded by the Getty Foundation’s Keeping It Modern Initiative.

But still, the improvements will not be enough to halt time’s slow and steady grind.

Anticipating the Institute’s future preservation needs, Elizabeth Blackburn, Salk Institute president, said, “Despite the wonderful success of the teak restoration, the Salk Institute will continue to need care as the years go on.” She added, “Our next project will be restoring the concrete of the buildings, which is beginning to wear.” To aid in the restoration, the Institute has created an unspecified endowment to fund the “future needs of this beloved masterpiece,” said Elizabeth Shepherd, wife of Jonas Salk’s son, Jonathan Salk. (Sheperd and Salk have made a “lead gift” toward the new program, according to the Salk Institute.)

No word yet on how much money will ultimately be allocated to the restoration of the complex’s concrete components, nor has a timeline been established for these improvements.

For more information, see the Salk Institute website.

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