To house such a spectacular collection, HOK designed the museum to complement the art, and give visitors a “Dalí-esque” experience, but at the same time protect the work from any foreseeable danger, especially hurricanes and flooding. As such, the museum was designed to withstand 165 mph wind loads from a Category 5, 200-year hurricane and includes 18 inch, cast-in place, reinforced concrete walls and a 12 inch thick roof. Storm doors shield the vault and galleries, which are all located on the third floor, protected against 30 foot hurricane storm surges. All of the glass is one-and-a-half inches thick, insulated and laminated, and was tested to resist the 135 mph winds, driven rain and missile impacts of a Category 3 hurricane.
Inspiration for the museum’s design came from Dalí’s work, as well as Buckminster Fuller, who particularly influenced the artist. The three story building is a large concrete box, mysterious in its simplicity and accented by the fantastical geodesic glass atrium. Called the “Enigma”, after one of Dalí’s paintings, the faceted atrium crawls over the facade of the building and its shape is formed by a 75 foot tall spiraling staircase inside the lobby. Building Integrated Modeling was utilized to design and build the complex geometry of the organic glass structure.