The architecture of the Buck Institute is as distinctive as its science
World-renowned architect I.M. Pei was so interested in the mission of the Institute that he unexpectedy responded to a request to submit a proposal to design the research facility. Following the founder's guidelines he designed an inspirational, meditative space that fosters creative interaction among scientists and harmonizes with the serene Marin County landscape.
Visitors taking part in docent-led tours have an opportunity to appreciate Pei's trademark use of varied geometric elements and floating staircases, which are featured throughout both the administrative and research buildings. The Institute atrium is accentuated by a 75 foot-high skylight, similar to the Louvre Museum pyramid in Paris, which is another design of I.M. Pei's. Indoor non-fruiting olive trees, another Pei favorite, are also featured in the atrium.
The structure of the building is concrete and steel-framed. About 50,000 blocks of imported travertine limestone were used to clad the exterior walls of the Institute, and line the atrium space. The travertine marble and terrazzo stone floors were chosen for their beauty, ease of maintenance and durability. Floor to ceiling windows in the atria of the two buildings offer sweeping vistas of the surrounding countryside.
The landscaping complements existing oaks, bay trees and grassland chaparral. The majority of the property is maintained as open space. The Institute shares its property with wild turkeys, deer, and mountain lions.