HOK’s Salvador Dali Museum Opens in Florida
by Deborah Wilk | Monday, January 10, 2011 | 11 Comments
The thought of hurricane-force winds is hardly the first thing that comes to mind when gazing upon a freshly minted museum—even one dedicated to the Surreal. But extreme weather was a key consideration for trustees of the Salvador Dali Museum of St. Petersburg, Florida, where storm warnings previously meant the actual removal of the entire collection from the site to a secure location. Fortunately, the appointment of HOK to more than double the Dali’s facility to 67,000 square feet also meant acquiring the structural expertise of firm design director Yann Weymouth, who worked alongside I.M. Pei to create the glass pyramid at Paris’s Musee du Louvre.
After meeting Buckminster Fuller as a student, Weymouth is something of a disciple, acknowledging the iconic designer’s influence on his skylights for the National Gallery’s East Wing, the transparent structure of London’s Fleet Place House, as well as the Louvre construction.
For the Dali, more than 1,000 triangular-shape glass panels were used to create two different biomorphic forms that melt into the 18-inch-think sides of the reinforced concrete building, built to withstand 165-mile-per-hour Category 5 storm winds. According to Weymouth, both Enigma and Igloo, as the forms are called, push the envelope of Fuller’s investigations into three-dimension triangulating geometries. They were also tested to resist the impact of a Category 3 135-mile-per-hour storm surge.
Inside, a concrete spiral staircase reaches nearly the full height of the 75-foot-high atrium, bringing visitors to the exhibition space, reserved for the permanent collection of some 2,100 objects, including 96 major paintings in oil. In addition to the reception center, the first level features a 90-seat theater, 150-seat community hall, a café with indoor and outdoor seating, and a museum shop. Doors are set to open to the public January 11.
All images by Morris Moreno; courtesy of HOK.
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