This museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of Salvador Dalí’s art outside of Spain. The three-story structure sits on a beautiful bayside site along St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront.
Inspired by Dalí’s surrealist art and the practical need to shelter the collection from the hurricanes that threaten Florida’s west coast, HOK’s design draws directly from the building’s purpose.
A 58-foot-high, right-angled, Euclidean “treasure box” with thick concrete walls protects the art. This unfinished concrete block is disrupted by the flowing, organic, triangulated glass “Enigma” (also the name of a 1929 Dalí painting) composed of 1,062 glass triangles. This blue-green glass opens the museum to the bay and sky while forming an atrium roof that draws in daylight.
Upon entering the museum, visitors are drawn to the galleries above through a sculptural concrete spiral staircase inspired by the artist’s fascination with the double-helical structure of DNA. The permanent gallery uses black plaster light cannons to focus natural light on seven large masterworks, illuminating Dalí’s most iconic creations.
The American Institute of Architects included the building on its list of Florida’s greatest architecture of the past 100 years, and Flavorwire ranked it among the “20 Most Beautiful Museums in the World.”