I visited the Dali Museum years ago in Figuereste, a small town near Barcelona. It’s a completely crazy place with its architecture and the pieces inside! I noticed that another Dali Museum was opened last week in Florida on 11th January. Salvador Dali Museum building is just what expresses Dali and his surrealist art. It is inspired both by Dalí’s surrealist art and by the practical need to shelter the collection from the hurricanes that threaten Florida’s west coast.
Using glass in such fluid forms puts me under spell. The structure springs out of the building designed by Yann Weymouth, the design director of international architecture company HOK Florida and it reminds me about a melted cyristal. Weymouth also names this structure as “enigma” after the art piece Dali made in 1929.
Museum building is situated on Florida coast which can experience powerful hurricanes. It has to be resisting against winds blowing 165 MPH and thus, gross reinforced concrete walls of the building is 18 inches (45 centimeters) in thickness.
The design team were worried about the water migration and to further guard against leaks, the engineer specified self-consolidating concrete, which contains a crystalline admixture. During casting, when crystals get wet, they expand and fill any voids in the concrete.
According to the calculations, the necessity of concrete walls being thick also, helps to carry the glass structure. On the other hand, during design, the engineer noticed that the shrinking and expanding of the Novum system in response to temparature variations would cause uplift on the building’s shallow foundations. The engineer considered putting in-tension piles to resist the collective uplift, but that that would be too expensive. Instead, Novum modified its connections, allowing more play by a fraction of an inch at each node to allow for thermal expansion and contraction.
The key point of realizing these fantastic buildings is to figure out the geometry of fluid form and to optimize according to standarts of present material. Novum’s free-form systems are created by a in-house program. The firm has been developing its method to modularize free forms and create any shaped surface from straight lines and flat surfaces. Size, dimension and angles of materials and nodal points are optimized by means of this program. Optimizing angles is actually to minimize the number of angles under 40 degrees between adjacent components. This is because as the angles get smaller, the connection has to get bigger because the members start to collide. Through this optimization, visual completeness and ease of production are maintained.
Another significant point is to make an inventory. It’s a very difficult task in itself to mount thousands of profiles and glasses produced in various gauges! Each one of the materials are packed and labeled considering their order of mount.
I told you it’s an engineering marvel, didn’t i!
For the last, “In the end, some of the beauty is that you are just looking at physics” says internationally recognized architect Yann Weymouth..