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Salk Institute plan OK opens doors for fundraising

When the city council unanimously approved plans for the Salk Institute expansion last week, it marked the beginning of another project for the landmark on Torrey Pines Mesa - raising the estimated $250 million to build it.

Known as the Torrey East Building, the new structure will “house the Institute’s new ‘front door’ and provide social spaces, labs, and an underground parking structure,” said Mauricio Minotta, Salk spokesman.

The expansion calls for greenhouses and will include space called the Atrium that Minotta said will be “an important interaction space for all scientists, both on the north and south wings of the building.”

It also will enable views towards the institute’s courtyard and the original buildings designed by Louis Kahn.

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Details on the capital campaign and construction timeline have yet to be announced, he said.

“This is a terrific plan for the Salk Institute,” said Marsha A. Chandler, executive vice president of the Salk Institute. “It not only is designed to give priority to the science and to preserve the architectural and historic integrity envisioned by Jonas Salk and Louis Kahn, it is also environmentally responsible.”

The project, to be completed in phases, will add 186,000 square feet on a 26.3-acres-site on the bluffs above Black’s Beach. The plan provides a blueprint for the Institute’s growth and development for the next 50 years. At build-out, the Salk Institute will have a total of 476,000 square feet of laboratory and support space, according to a news release.

The institute and nearby residents have been battling over the proposal, only recently reaching agreement over habitat preservation and view issues after more than 70 meetings in the past four years.

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Council President Scott Peters, who represents the area, said he was pleased the stakeholders were able to reach consensus.

“I am so thankful for Salk for listening to the neighbors and the environmental community,’' Peters said.