Some see a frozen tear clinging to the “cheek” of the new Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Others see a melting crystal. Depending on the viewer’s vantage point, still others say they are reminded of a misshapen potato, a nose, an amoeba and a dolphin in a nosedive. The builders of the glazed atrium structure that drapes over the side of the boxy building simply call it the “enigma.” After all, the builders had to solve a mystery of how to shape, engineer and hang a transparent and organic structure—75.5 ft at its tallest, 105 ft at its widest and 27.5 ft at its deepest—and still ensure the delicate-looking structure can withstand hurricane-force winds and windborne debris.
“No one thought this was achievable,” says Mark House, managing director of the Tampa office of The Beck Group, the $29.8-million job’s construction manager at risk.