INTERVIEW: HOK’s Yann Weymouth Discusses Designing the Hurricane-Resistant Salvador Dalí Museum
INHABITAT: What was the most challenging aspect in desiging the museum?
YANN: The building is now finished and open, and in its first 8 months has attracted 300,000 visitors; by the end of the year the museum will double its yearly attendance. But there were several challenges to resolve during the design process. The first was to ensure the safety of the collection from hurricanes by making the building a Category 5 resistant structure, and placing all mission-critical functions above the potential 28’ storm surge.
A second requirement was to stay within the tight budget by prioritizing every decision on materials, systems, and working closely with our engineers, the construction manager, the Beck Group, the client project manager (Peter Arendt) and the director on every decision.
The third was to discover how to integrate the geodesic geometry of the glass enigma properly with the concrete structure of the building. We solved these by working very closely and collaboratively between all our teams, but it took energy, patience, and time in the design process, to then have a project that in construction went very fast.
INHABITAT: What is your favorite part of the Dali Museum?
YANN: I really love being in the atrium space, which is very three-dimensional and different from every viewpoint and at all times of day and night. The spiral staircase is a totally functional way to move from the ground to the galleries, but it is also a structural tour-de-force and a sculptural gesture to the sky.
INHABITAT: Your team used a BIM (Building Information Modeling) process with the Dali Museum. How important was it to your design and construction process? Can you explain how your team used it and how it helped you?
YANN: This was our first project using BIM in every aspect of the design. We had just adopted Revit, and it took us a moment to adjust to a new way of working, but it was essential to this design. We used hand sketches, watercolors, and took them into CAD, SketchUp, then into Revit and Rhino to figure things out and communicate them. Since then all our projects have used BIM.
INHABITAT: Given the museum’s location it was important that the structure be built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. How has BIM technology allowed you plan for this in terms of both architecture and engineering?
YANN: Our structural engineers, both Walter P. Moore, and Novum, who did the free-form geodesic glass enigma relied entirely upon BIM, working form our BIM models, to calculate structural forces. Indeed the geometry of the tessellation of the triangulation was determined by parametric algorithms, so the shapes of the triangles, no two of which are identical, is a pure reflection of the forces involved.
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