Florida's Fortress-Like Salvador Dal Museum Will Mock Hurricanes

Florida's Fortress-Like Salvador Dal  Museum Will Mock Hurricanes

The founders of the upcoming Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, are aware that melting clocks and flaming giraffes are not the only hazards they have to contend with in building the $36 million structure — there's also the less Surreal matter of the hurricanes that annually wallop the coastal region. To protect the building, whose opening January 11 date was set last year when mayor Bill Foster started a ticking egg timer, architect Yann Weymouth has built it into a concrete vault girded by an undulant, egg-inspired shield of hurricane-proof glass. 

"The building is a fortress," Weymouth, a member of the firm HOK who has been working with Beck Group constructors, told WTSP news. Containing the largest collection of the Spanish surrealist’s artworks outside his native country — including 96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors and drawings, and thousands of sculptures, photographs, and archival materials — the central structure will be able to withstand the 165-mile-per-hour winds of category 5 hurricanes. The more than 900 interlocked glass triangles that make up the outer portion of the building — called the "Enigma" segment — can withstand up to a category 3 hurricane, but interior storm doors will guard the art in the event the shell is breached.

This 66,450-square-foot building will replace the institution’s converted-warehouse home of the last 28 years. "You cannot replace any of the paintings," Weymouth said, explaining the extreme precautionary measures. "Salvador Dalí did them years ago, and he’s not here anymore."