The Dali Museum


Salvador Dali Museum, Inc.


Size: 66,400 SF

Architect: HOK

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How Did They Build That?

The Dali Museum

St. Petersburg

Located in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, The Dali Museum is an engineered work of surrealistic art housing the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s work outside of Spain. The challenge for the engineering team was to balance the aesthetic needs of creating a building of architectural significance while providing an economic structure capable of withstanding a 165-mph storm, a storm surge of up to 25 feet, and lasting 100 years. 

To economically create attractive exposed walls throughout the building, unfinished 18-inch cast-in-place concrete walls were used in lieu of architectural precast. To prevent water migration through the unpainted walls, we developed a dense concrete mixture.

A major feature of the museum, the Enigma is a distinctive free-form glass system made up of more than 1,200 individual glass panels held in place by interior steel space frames connected to the concrete superstructure. This was the first application in which a freeform system would be fixed on all sides and serve as the primary weather barrier. 

Inside, the museum houses another exceptional feature, a helical staircase highlighting Dali’s obsession with spirals and the double helical shape of the DNA molecule.