“Located on a scenic waterfront site in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla., the 68,000-square-foot structure doubles the size of the original 1982 Dali Museum, a one-story warehouse. Exhibits include oils, watercolors, sketches, sculptures and other works from a 2,140-piece permanent collection. HOK’s design concept is drawn directly from the building’s purpose. It is inspired both by Dali’s surrealist art and by the practical need to shelter the collection from the hurricanes that threaten Florida’s west coast.
“Salvador Dali was a monumental pioneer of twentieth-century art and this is perhaps the best collection of his work in the world,” said Weymouth. “Our challenge was to discover how to resolve the technical requirements of the museum and site in a way that expresses the dynamism of the great art movement that he led. It is important that the building speak to the surreal without being trite.” A 58-foot-high, right-angled, Euclidean “treasure box” with thick concrete walls protects the art.
This unfinished concrete box is disrupted by a flowing, organic, triangulated glass “Enigma” (also the name of a 1929 Dali painting) that opens the museum to the bay and sky while forming an atrium roof that draws in natural daylight. “We deliberately exposed the unfinished faces of the concrete to reduce maintenance and to allow it to be a tough, natural foil to the more refined precision of the glass Enigma,” said Weymouth. “This contrast between the rational world of the conscious and the more intuitive, surprising natural world is a constant theme in Dali’s work.” Design by HOK & Credits photos Moris Moreno”