Fall Equinox, 2016

“We just want to see the sunset,” I explained.

“But I’m not suppose to let anyone in,” the man said. He was exiting The Salk Institute and I was determined to not take no for an answer. I fully expected that I would get in.

“I’m visiting all the way from D.C. and I’m a teacher,” I ranted. “I just want to be able to show my students a photo of the sunset,”  Plus, I knew my architect husband wanted to enjoy the courtyard space designed by Louis Kahn on the evening of September 22, 2016, the very moment Kahn designed for the sun to set on axis with the courtyard water feature.

“Okay, okay,” and the man stepped aside and allowed us to enter.

For the next 30 minutes, we stood with others and watched the horizon line beyond the courtyard. And inch by inch, the yellow ball got lower and lower and lower. My eyes followed the single narrow strip of water that runs down the open plaza at The Salk. And sure, enough. As the sun set on this first day of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun and the water feature were in perfect alignment.



I tweeted about it here for my students and families at Discovery ES to see:


While I played hokey to accompany my husband who was attending the bi-annual conference of the  Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) held at The Salk Institute, my school was also celebrating the Equinox. Instead of a water feature, Discovery ES was designed by VMDO Architects with a solar clock installed at the entrance. As the 22nd of September began, a camera filmed the movements across the entranceway which included the shadow of the sun. And on the 9, 12 and 3 stone markers impeded in the front wall, the shadow formed in a perfect circle to mark the precise time of day. Watch the film to fully enjoy the movement that took place by sun and students on the first day of Fall:



As I reflect on the Fall Equinox, I take comfort in what I observed, on both the East and West Coasts. I felt a bit of peace in watching the sun perform in a perfect order on the Equinox. Don’t we all need a moment of peace , especially now when, in our world, it sometimes feels more random and chaotic.

To learn more about the architecture at The Salk Institute, click here.

To read more about the design of Discovery ES, click here.