(At last!) Munk’s Map breaks ground at Kellogg Park in La Jolla

Project artist Robin Brailsford, art assistant Mariah Conner, project artist Wick Alexander, Grunow Construction project manager Bill Anderson, Mary Coakley-Munk and Shaw & Sons Concrete rep Jeff Counterman pose February 2020 at the sight of The Map installation in La Jolla Shores.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)

Construction in Kellogg Park began Valentine’s Day morning on what has become a valentine to late Scripps Institution of Oceanography rock star Walter Munk from his widow.

“It’s fantastic, like poetry in motion,” said Mary Coakley-Munk. “Walter would be so pleased.”

As Coakley-Munk watched from behind a construction fence, workers from Shaw & Sons poured and paved thousands of pounds of concrete between the children’s playground and a comfort station adjacent to Walter Munk Way. Then, they placed pre-assembled portions of a 2,400-square-foot tile mosaic in place.

“The Map of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla Educational Plaza” (aka “The Map”) displays some 119 different species of sea life found just offshore in La Jolla Canyon.

“The hope is that this will bring awareness of what’s under the water that those of us who don’t scuba-dive don’t ever get to see,” Coakley-Munk said, “and make people interested in learning about each of the species and how they can help preserve our ocean, which is in great jeopardy.”

The Map is shown last year, when the tile mosaic was prefabricated in the abandoned former NOAA Fisheries Building at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Coakley-Munk said she and her late husband paid $300,000 for the project’s fabrication and materials through their Walter Munk Foundation for the Oceans and that, through Friends of La Jolla Shores, she is currently attempting to raise the $700,000 in construction costs.

The original Map was created in 2008 and installed at Kellogg Park with tiny colored beads and bronze fish secured into the ground sealed with Lithocrete. There was no fencing, allowing uninhibited access, which led to the Lithocrete cracking and the beads being unearthed. The Map was removed and the site covered in decomposed granite.

The Map’s replacement has been in development since 2013, but as project organizers were fundraising and acquiring the necessary permits, an appeal was filed, reportedly by Munk’s daughter Edie, arguing The Map should be processed as a completely new project rather than a replacement.

Designed by artists Robin Brailsford and Wick Alexander, the new Map was originally slated for installation in March 2019, but was delayed upon the passing of Walter Munk a month earlier.

Walter got to see it before he died, however, when most of it had been pre-assembled in the abandoned NOAA Fisheries Building at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Coakley-Munk said “he loved it very much.”

To make a donation to The Map, visit

Workers from Shaw & Sons Conrete pour and pave thousands of pounds of concrete for The Map of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla Educational Plaza in Kellogg Park, February 2020.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)