This week marked the grand opening for the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. The new building‘s 68,000 sqf doubles the size of the original one storey warehouse Dali Museum built in 1982.
Utilizing free-form geodesic geometry, the triangulated glass organically flows around and attaches to the rigid unfinished concrete box, a play of hard and soft, protecting Dali’s paintings and simultaneously providing natural daylight and openness to the adjacent bay. This is the first use of this type of free-form geodesic geometry in the United States.
Mesmerizing visitors within the museum is the coiled concrete form that greets them at the reception desk. The poured in place raw concrete spiral staircase is fitted with light cable-stayed stainless steel guardrails. The material choices provide a subtle juxtaposition along with an obvious nod to Dali’s allure with the double helix and other spiral forms in nature.
More photographs and further project description following the break.
Location: St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Programming and Master Planning: HOK
HOK Design Team: Duncan Broyd, Eva Busato, David Chason, Jenny Collins Miers, Susan Dame, Carly Debacker, Gary Erickson, Ralph Evans, Miranda Hensley, Will Hollingsworth, Scott Hughes, Laura Matson, Foard Meriwether, Eddie Pabon, Van Phrasavath, Lynn Puckett, Mary Sabel, Oliver Schwarz, Tommy Sinclair, Nicole Stearley, Izzy Torres, Anna Vasquez, Yann Weymouth, Sean Williams
General Contractor: The Beck Group
Glass Structure Consultant: Novum Structures LLC
Structural Engineer: Walter P. Moore & Associates Inc.
Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineer: TLC Engineering for Architecture
Program Manager: Peter Arendt
Acoustical Consultant: Siebein Associates Inc.
Civil Engineer: WilsonMiller Stantec Inc.
Landscape Architect: Phil Graham and Company
Lighting Designer: George Sexton Associates
Code Consultant: Rolf Jensen & Associates Inc.
Food Service Consultant: Schwartz Schwartz & Associates
Graphics/Signage Consultant: Dan Meeker Design
Hardware Consultant: S.B.S. Associates, Inc.
Client: Salvador Dalí Museum
Project Area: 68,000 sqf
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Moris Moreno, Michael Rixon
“We constantly consider the visitor experience when we design a museum. A large number of people visiting a museum will be there for the first time. The architecture must be extremely easy to understand. It can be quite adventurous and stimulating, but the circulation pathways should be clear from the moment visitors arrive at the building, “ shared Yann Wymouth design director for HOK Florida.
HOK’s design concept is drawn directly from the building’s purpose. It is inspired both by Dalí’s surrealist art and by the practical need to shelter the collection from the hurricanes that threaten Florida’s west coast.
“Salvador Dalí was a monumental pioneer of twentieth-century art and this is perhaps the best collection of his work in the world,” said Weymouth. “Our challenge was to discover how to resolve the technical requirements of the museum and site in a way that expresses the dynamism of the great art movement that he led. It is important that the building speak to the surreal without being trite.”
Despite the complex processes required to construct the building, which stands more than 75 feet tall and is adorned by 1,062 unique, triangular glass panels, the $29.8 million building project was completed on time and $700,000 under budget. Construction began in December 2008.
A 58-foot-high, right-angled, Euclidean “treasure box” with thick concrete walls protects the art.
“We deliberately exposed the unfinished faces of the concrete to reduce maintenance and to allow it to be a tough, natural foil to the more refined precision of the glass Enigma,” said Weymouth. “This contrast between the rational world of the conscious and the more intuitive, surprising natural world is a constant theme in Dalí s work.”
Dalí was a friend and admirer of Buckminster Fuller, who helped pioneer geodesic geometries and is a hero of Weymouth’s. HOK used building information modeling (BIM) to create three-dimensional models of the glazing forms before Novum Structures imported the model into its proprietary software program and then engineered, manufactured and installed the Enigma and its glass sister, the “Igloo.”
“The flowing, free-form use of geodesic triangulation is a recent innovation enabled by modern computer analysis and digitally controlled fabrication that allows each component to be unique,” explained Weymouth. “No glass panel, structural node or strut is precisely the same. This permitted us to create a family of shapes that, while structurally robust, more closely resembles the flow of liquids in nature.”
In the exhibition galleries on the third floor, seven unique suspended black plaster “light cannons” funnel daylight onto the largest of the Dalí masterworks. The art exhibition spaces are connected by a sculptural gallery that appears to magically land in the center of the ‘egg’ skylight, providing ample light and sweeping vistas overlooking Tampa Bay.
The building protects this priceless art collection from hurricane-force winds and water. The fortress-like structure is designed to withstand the 165-mph wind loads of a Category 5, 200-year hurricane. The roof is 12-inch thick, solid concrete and the cast-in-place reinforced concrete walls are 18 inches thick. Located above the flood plane on the third floor, the art is protected from a 30-foot-high hurricane storm surge. Storm doors shield the vault and galleries. Specially developed for this project, the triangulated glass panels are one-and-a-half inches thick, insulated and laminated, and were tested to resist the 135 mph winds, driven rain and missile impacts of a Category 3 hurricane.