In Progress: Salvador Dalí Museum / HOK + Beck Group

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HOK, along with Beck Group, has designed a new museum to house the works of Salvador Dalí in St. Petersburg, Florida. The architecture, greatly inspired by the great surrealist, “combines elements of the classical and the fantastical,” according to the director of the museum. The design speaks to the essence of Dalí while incorporating functional elements to combat Florida’s tough weather.

More images and more about the museum after the break.

© HOK + Beck Group

Since Florida is prone to powerful hurricanes, the art is located above the flood plane and housed within cast-in-place reinforced 18” thick concrete walls. The museum can protect the prized collection from up to a Category 5 hurricane storm surge and 165mph winds.

© HOK + Beck Group

While the concrete protects the art, this “treasure box” is broken and disrupted by the organic, triangulated glass “Enigma.”    The glass is seen as “contrast between the rational world of the conscious and the more intuitive, surprising natural world” – a recurring theme of Dalí’s work.

© HOK + Beck Group

This glass “Enigma” has a specific connection to Dali, as he greatly admired the work of Buckminster Fuller, who developed the geodesic dome. Restricted by the technology of the time, Fuller was limited to experimenting with platonic solid and great circle geometries. Yet, recent modern technology, using computer analysis and digitally controlled fabrication, allows each component to be unique.   No glass panel, structural node or strut is precisely the same, and all are identified by bar code to facilitate fabrication, shipping and assembly. “This has permitted us to create a family of shapes which while structurally robust more closely resembles the flow of liquids in nature,” added the architects. This is the first use of this type of free-form geodesic geometry in the United States.

© HOK + Beck Group

The eye-catching spiral staircase references Dali’s fascination with DNA, the golden rectangle and the Fibonacci series. The amazing curve is a “structural tour-de-force, with the reinforced concrete spiral functioning as a tensioned spring held at ground level and at the third floor, with the stair treads cantilevered from the central spiral.”

© HOK + Beck Group

St. Petersburg, Florida

Floor area: 66,000 square feet

Budget: $30 million

3 floors

Opening to Public 1/11/11, at 11:00 a.m.

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "In Progress: Salvador Dalí Museum / HOK + Beck Group" 30 Jul 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 16 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    HOK, just because you have a computer program that can triangulate a design, doesn’t make it a good design. Why don’t you put some honest thought into your work and not make it so gimmicky.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I’m sure the stair is going to turn out awesome but the cube with glass glob is not a nice composition.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      I am interested in the idea of taking Dali’s amorphous forms translated to a museum… about Dali.

      You can hate or love it, but the idea behind this type of art is to have you rethinking conventional interpretations of space and the everyday, is compelling.

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      because the founders of the museum (Reynolds and Elenor Morse) both loved Dali and his paintings and if im not mistaken bought most of his works.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    Here’s a simple question. Would Salvador Dali love it?
    Maybe in his crazy dreams only, yet not so sure about that…

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Here`s a simple answer. Salvador Dali is dead. Its pretty crazy, not a dream. He really is dead.
    As for the building, -very traditional in its try on crazyness.
    ok, enough.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    A museum is about the artwork and the people in it. The pictures don’t seem to talk about how the art work is displayed, and the only form of circulation shown here is that one staircase, that perhaps took on the metaphor of dna to literally. It would help to see a section and plan of the building before critical comments are made.

    The form of the project as an object however is not very appealing whether or not it does or doesn’t integrate itself into its environment. So the image portrayed is a cast in place box with a tumor growing on it.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      I apologize if my comment has any typos. If anyone has any research on this project please post it. I would love to learn more about this piece of work. The technology and spaces applied to this work might redeem some of its other qualities. There are no perfect buildings.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    the lighting in photo with the skylight and spiral stair is very nice. the warm and cold tones with the raw concrete i think looks great.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    I like how people on here seem to think that they should judge an unfinished project. They must have been the ones who never finished their studio work on time.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    mmm…a poor (but marketed) architecture for a average (but marketed) artist…

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This is methaphor on the life of great artist Salvador Dali. The box is the image, the frame, -but dali went beyond that, and so thoes the building!! And the staircase creates a beutiful atmosphere and joins you in the whole building. Whith concrete and light space to contemplate the deeper meaning of this art. I love it, and think many people have worked many days to create this structure ( maybe in grasshopper or 3dmax?), and can be prowd of what they have ended with as a final sculpture. Cant wait to see the interior with paintings and furniture!

  10. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    What the @#$%? This is what happens when a corporate like HOK gets involved in a project. So they filter surrealism into a f***ing spiral staircase? Yuck!

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      I’m not affiliated with any of the partners, but I’d like to issue a challenge.
      I ask the following of all the short “critiques”. Further the conversation.

      What would you do different?

      How would you interpret a museum for Dali?

      Where would you think differently?

      Would you go in the extreme opposite of Dali to add contrast? Would you revision his methods?

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    “…Cuando tenía veintiún años, fui un día a comer a casa de mi amigo Roussy de Sales en compañía del arquitecto masoquista y protestante Le Corbusier, que, como todo el mundo sabe, es el inventor de la arquitectura de autopunición. Le Corbusier me preguntó si tenía ideas sobre el futuro de su arte. Y sí, las tenía. Por otra parte yo tengo ideas para todo. Le contesté que la arquitectura sería “blanda y peluda” y afirmé categóricamente que el último gran genio de la arquitectura se llamaba Gaudí, cuyo nombre, en catalán, significa “gozar”, así como Dalí quiere decir “deseo”. Le expliqué que el goce y el deseo son propios del catolicismo y del gótico mediterráneo, reinventados y llevados al paroxismo por Gaudí. Mientras me escuchaba, Le Corbusier parecía tragar sapos y culebras…”
    Salvador Dalí
    “Los Cornudos del Viejo Arte Moderno”, Salvador Dalí

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    From Babble Fish, —->
    “… When he was twenty, I was a day to feed my friend’s house Roussy de Sales in the company of architect Le Corbusier masochistic and Protestant, which, as everyone knows, is the inventor of the architecture of autopunición. Le Corbusier asked if I had ideas about the future of his art. And yes, he had them. On the other hand I have a ideas for everything. I replied that the architecture would be “soft and hairy” and states categorically that the last great architectural genius named Gaudí, whose name, in Catalan, means “enjoy” and Dalí means “desire.” I explained that the enjoyment and desire are those of Catholicism and the medieval Mediterranean, reinvented and brought to its pinnacle by Gaudí. As I listened, Le Corbusier seemed to swallow toads and snakes … “

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Pleace, Drone Iyangar, you have to remember that art and architecture ar part of the same game. You express a feeling or idea through material. The architects has observed Dalis work to be able to make this masterpiece. Look at the following image and you will also understand the hidden image:

    more beatifull images:

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Insist, 30 million dollars placed into the trash…maybe be different when finished …I hope

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    while there is a lot of discontentment towards this museum. I personally like the outside Buckminsterish glass fixture – I am not sure how I feel about the building it is “attaching” itself too but it is not done yet. I like the stair case that keeps winding up.

  16. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    It’s not going to win any awards, but it looks to me like it’s trying to capture some of Dali’s whimsy, and it seems an okay enough project. It at least warrants completion before skewering…From the photos at this stage in its completion – unless the finishes are really ghastly – I think I’d rather enjoy spending some time checking it out.

  17. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I don’t understand why so many have such negative thoughts about this project. You can clearly see it’s not finished. This is the first time I’ve seen this project, and I’m extremely excited about it. I love the stair case, and I think it will be awesome when its finished. I just hope there is more physical interaction with Salvador’s surreal art other than just the stairs. I want to see more pictures!

    I must say the people that complained about this project obviously do not like Salvador Dali, or using technology to do things architecturally that where not even possible during his time with us.

  18. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think it’s awesome. Don’t over annalyze people, just enjoy. Very unique and glad it’s part of our city. St. pete you should very proud of this building and what it represents. GREAT JOB!

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