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Time, and Louis Kahn

It was a summer evening in mid-January and we’d just arrived on an almost deserted west facing beach on Victoria’s southern most point, Cape Otway. It was warm, the air wrapped us and whispered through our hair and we watched and ate, gazing with wonder at the nature of things, the immensity of the ocean set before us.

As we sat on the beach, bookended by ancient crumbling limestone cliffs, the sun began it’s long drop over the edge of the Bass Strait. All manner of varied colours ranging from pink, to orange, reds and blues, lit up the evening sky captivating our senses and entrancing us. We were amazed at the beauty set before us and the acute understanding it gave us of our place in the world. It was as if nature understood our essence. And we were thankful, not just for the orange or the blue, or the pinks and reds, but for knowing more of what it means to be human.

In this knowing of things seen, the crumbling cliffs, incandescent colours, and the unseen, the sense of our place in the midst of the seen, Louis Kahn gifted us Salk.

He knew that we are temporary beings, that we live, and that we die, and are victims of time; but that we also possess an acute sense of the ancient nature of things, the continuity inherent both in time and nature.

He showed us this at Salk. He showed us in the ancient, stoic procession of bladed columns and the rhythm of solid void, solid void. He showed us his knowledge of the patina that would one day paint the passing of time all throughout.

He knew, also, that sitting on a beach in a faraway land, we would know a truth that the ocean and the sun and the cliffs, and the columns and the voids, gave us. That truth being the very fundamental sense that the world understands us, and we it.

Thank you Louis, thank you.