It’s winter in Seattle and so where can one go for warmth and great art…how about St Petersburg….Florida. Yes that one. The new Dali Museum is opening there this month in an amazing building by HOK Architects of London and set in a landscape designed by Graham-Booth Landscape Architecture to remind visitors of Dali’s summer residence in Cadaquez in Spain.
The grounds are full of colorful flowering shrubs, palms and trees that represent the coastal character of Spain, and over one thousand tons of Florida limestone boulders, (some as big as cars) are placed throughout the site to suggest the landscape of Dali’s Catalonian home. The rocks in his landscape paintings are referencing this same landscape.
At the entry a 20-ft. tall man-made boulder supports one corner of the massive cube and a living wall has plants in pockets and flowing water that weeps out of crags and crannies. A misting system gives the whole area a mysterious and cooling effect before visitors enter the museum.
Large boulders were split in half to define the steps, a spiral labyrinth invites exploration, a bench morphs into a pocket watch, entry gates disappear into boulders, this is a site as much fun to explore as one of Dali’s paintings. On the roof solar water heaters heat water for the bathrooms, LED lighting lowers energy use and passive solar addresses cooling. As it is built in Florida the walls are 18” thick and the glass specially designed to resist hurricane force wind speeds, and all the art is on the third floor, keeping it above any incursion by storm surge. Now doesn’t that take your mind off Winter?