Gallery: Fantastical New Salvador Dalí Museum in Florida is Also Hurric...

Viewing the master's art becomes more of a full body experience for all the senses and more importantly, the artwork is protected to the highest standards.

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.

Before entering the museum, visitors are guided through gardens and a grotto, and then are led past the museum’s store. After passing through the store, they enter the open, three-story tall day-lit lobby and are stunned by the cast-in-place concrete spiraling staircase, inspired by both DNA and the Fibonacci sequence. Visitors can enjoy the cafe or take the staircase or elevators to the third floor gallery space, which features a permanent collection of 100 Dalí oil paintings as well as a temporary exhibit.

Hurricane resistant skylights provide natural daylighting for the gallery space and humidity is controlled using a solar hot water powered dehumidification system. High efficiency HVAC and ventilation systems minimize energy use, and the solar hot water system also provides domestic hot water. Indoor air quality is maintained by the use of low VOC materials and an energy efficient ventilation system. All the lighting in and around the building is energy efficient, especially the LED lighting used for the exterior.

A cool roof coating and light colored materials used on the building and pathways reduce the heat island effect as well as cooling loads. The exterior is landscaped with native and Florida-friendly vegetation and landscape irrigation is provided through reclaimed water to reduce potable water usage. Permeable pavers help infiltrate stormwater and an underground stormwater filtration system minimizes pollutants that enter into Tampa Bay. All the concrete for the entire project makes use of flyash or ground granulated blast furnace slag as a replacement for Portland cement, along with 97% recycled steel for the rebar.

The end result is a stunningly impressive museum that sets off Dalí’s works in the best light. Viewing the master’s art becomes more of a full body experience for all the senses and more importantly, the artwork is protected to the highest standards. St. Petersburg has received a precious gift in terms of a landmark for both art and architecture lovers.

+ Salvador Dalí Museum


Images Courtesy of HOK ©Moris Moreno & Michale Rixen


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  1. Micheal October 5, 2011 at 12:27 am

    You put the lime in the coconut and drink the artilce up.

  2. namgiang May 29, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Why must every modern architecture have blank concrete walls and glass?? Where is the colour? Where is the texture? Where is the character? I have been to Dali’s own museum he designed in Figueres which has large eggs on the roof and loaves on bread on the outside of the building and he’s own residence welcomes the absurd also and if i had to compare it to this “inspired by Dali” building I would say i was looking at an office building.

  3. Lacey January 14, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I would loved to haven seen this unique architecture closer to Orlando or Miami, as I think it would be more fitting. Who knows? Maybe it would’ve been more expensive or simply not enough room? Either way it’s beautiful.

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