Architect Yann Weymouth Discusses “State of the Art” for New Salvador Dalí Museum

I wanted to follow up on last week’s blog about GOOD DESIGN with brief highlights of Yann Weymouth’s lecture the other evening, hosted by JMC Communities at their Ovation condominium tower in downtown St Petersburg. 

Mr. Weymouth, the architect for the new Salvador Dali Museum, is Director of Design for renowned architectural firm Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) Florida. He said HOK’s focus was to be true to Dalí and the great legacy of the Morse family — to create a unique environment of experiential spaces that move perceptually with the visitor, but remain as classic and surprising, as are Dalí’s works, without resorting to “melting clocks” or other kitsch and cliché.

Future Salvador Dali Museum

Referred to as “a master of light and reflection,” Mr. Weymouth said he took care to honor Dalí’s own masterful use of natural light and his genius at creating visual enigmas by juxtaposing solid forms and shadows to create three-dimensional enigmas. As an example, he described the almost fluid crystalline glass “enigma” that appears to pull away from the spiral staircase, creating the illusion of a dialogue between helical form and crystalline glass enclosure. Proud of how the three-story “treasure box” design turned out, Mr. Weymouth also noted several practical extras, including the waterfront building’s storm safety and its environmental elements, such as solar heating, water conservation and dehumidification—all to assure that the museum is as enduring as the artist’s body of work.

Mr. Weymouth’s museum portfolio is impressive, and a good preparation for the Salvador Dalí Museum. He worked with I.M. Pei on the Grand Louvre in Paris, supervising the design of the world-renowned glass pyramid in the 1980s, a role he had earlier as design chief for Pei on the U.S. National Gallery of Art East Wing. With HOK, he led design of the new Searing wing at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, the Hazel Hough wing at Ovation’s neighbor, the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, and the new Frost Museum in Miami.


Good Design

I had the good fortune of recently attending a lecture given by Yann Weymouth, the architect who designed the new Salvador Dali Museum scheduled to open 1/1/11 here in St. Petersburg, Florida.  His presentation was very engaging and I look forward to sharing his vision and design philosophy with you later.

But for now, I’d like to share my thoughts about our design approach to the buildings and communities we build.

Good design is much more than simply an outward appearance.  It comes from a creative understanding that takes into account many disciplines… buyer profile, landscape, livability, function, pedestrian experience, cityscape and operational efficiency.  It is an anticipation of user needs and evolving ideas, and uses storytelling to bring these ideas to life.

Good design is the marriage of place and space, and it becomes both a physical and emotional presentation.  For instance when planning our Ovation community we were careful to balance the design both from the outside-in as well as the inside-out, thus contributing to the Beach Drive neighborhood as well as providing an optimal floorplan and view orientation for the homeowner.

People tend to think of design as good art, good visual language… true, but… good design also has to do with systems—allowing things to operate more efficiently, smoothly and comfortably for the end user.

Our homeowners appreciate good design!  They may not always specifically identify with what makes it good… they just know it feels better.  There is a visceral (emotional) connection.  And, good value is enhanced when you provide a great experience.

Ovation Celebrates its Grand Opening

O! What a Night!

53 Ovation Grand Opening  ©RobHarris
Ovation's Interior Designers, Lauri and Betsy Godfrey and Troy Beasley with JMC's Steve McAuliffe

Friends, family and new residents mingled Friday night at a VIP reception celebrating the official opening of the Ovation condominium tower in downtown St Petersburg, FLA. The Mindy Solomon Gallery in Ovation’s retail space near the lobby entrance also celebrated its grand opening with a preview of the gallery’s first exhibition, “Three from Korea.” Over 300 guests strolled between the two artful venues with ease.  

54 Ovation Grand Opening  ©RobHarris
Leblon Caipirinha Bar

Like visitors to an elegant art gallery, guests strolled through Ovation’s lobby among columns and seating areas, commenting thoughtfully about the structural detailing and custom artworks, including six 6-foot-tall glass sculptures in niches, ceramic boats suspended from the ceiling and large canvases hugging the walls. 

57 Ovation Grand Opening  ©RobHarris
Poolside Water Curtain and Fountain

Leaving the area against the fading strains of a live cellist, guests were guided up to the fourth floor amenity area, where they were met with more live music (Florida Orchestra ) voices, laughter, and oohs and aahs as hors d’oeuvres  (Olympia Catering) were shared and stories told. The party spilled out onto the pool area under skies so perfect you’d think it was a Hollywood movie set. There, guests were treated to an Asian Satay station and delicious Leblon Cachaça served up by Ana and Mara at the Caipirinha bar.

Guests also eagerly rode the elevators up to the 18th floor, where they took their time touring the two award-winning model homes. In every room, at least one guest was observed gazing through a broad window at the city lights and animated waterfront. Lost, no doubt, in thoughts about how lovely it would be to end (and begin) each day just there.

Ovation is quickly positioning itself as the premier residential tower in the Tampa Bay area.

Salvador Dali “Rocks” St Petersburg

The day began at the site of the future $35 million Salvador Museum, as the construction half-way point was commemorated with the dedication of the building’s cornerstone.  Now, this wasn’t just any old boulder from down the street… it was a gift from Dali’s home town of Cadaques, Spain. 

Hank Hines Welcomes Guests to "Rock The Dali"
Hank Hine Welcomes Guests to "Rock The Dali"

Museum director Hank Hine masterfully conducted the ceremony mixing in some Castilian Spanish with his insights, accolades and introductions.  Joining Hank at the podium were our own St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, Cadaques Mayor, Joan Borrell and Maria del Valle, the director of the Centro Cultural Espanol in Miami. 

“Cadeques wanted to recognize Dali as their favorite son, and they wanted to give us this rock to symbolize his personality, his imagination,” said Hank Hine.  Much of Dali’s imagery was inspired by the landscape of the area, particularly the wind-swept rocks. Hine went on to say that the rock “looks as though it came right out of a Dali painting.”

Dali Rock
Mayors Baker & Borrell Unveil Rock From Cadeques, Spain

Dali wrote, Cap de Creus…the epic spot where the mountains of the Pyrenees come down to the sea, in a grandiose geological delirium, there, no more olive trees or vines. Only the elementary and planetary violence of the most diverse and paradoxically assembled rocks…these rocks which were so greatly to influence me. 

We were at once directed to look to the sky where a crane began lowering the rock from the roof of the unfinished building, gingerly placing it on the ground where the two Mayors lifted the tarp and presented the new building’s cornerstone.

LATER that afternoon, Dali Trustees and Donors, 3 St Petersburg Mayors, VIPs and JMC Communities’ team members gathered at the new Ovation condominium’s club room for a reception honoring Cadaques Mayor Borrell.  Classical Spanish music filled the air as 150+ guests enjoyed delicacies provided by Olympia Catering, and marveled at Ovation’s quality and beauty while overlooking the swimming pool gardens and St Petersburg’s waterfront.

As the evening progressed, some guests wandered outside to admire the pool’s “water curtain” and the evening sky.  Others, went to the 18th floor where they stepped out of the elevator directly into a magnificently designed and decorated 3,660 square foot model home.

After a late dinner, Mayor Borrell returned to Ovation where he and his entourage had been staying (Betsy Godfrey’s designer model) during their visit to St Petersburg.

It was a perfect day… all in all, Surreally Nice!!

Public Art Unveiled at Ovation

With Ovation having opened its doors just a few weeks ago, JMC Communities set its signature public art sculpture in place yesterday morning.  Set along broad sidewalks interspersed with various sized pavers and mature Medjool date palms, the sculpture is a handsome addition to the city’s commitment to a sophisticated pedestrian experience.

"O Wave" Created by Gordon Huether
"O Wave" Created by Gordon Huether

The unveiling took place at 9:30AM in front of City officials and administrators, Ovation/JMC development team members, homeowners and friends.  Artist Gordon Huether was present to share his inspiration and vision for “O Wave.”

At once substantial and ethereal, the 12-foot-diameter sculpture conveys a strong sense of movement – a wave turning in on its self to create an abstracted “O” for Ovation. The sculpture rests on a 4-foot-tall plinth clad in polished black granite, boosting the piece’s total height to 16 feet.

“O Wave” itself is clad in stainless steel, with dichroic glass pieces inset along its length. The rich, opulent and intense colors of the glass suggest dramatic Gulf sunsets and vary according to the viewer’s angle of vision. In direct sunlight, color projects onto adjacent surfaces. The glass is installed as overlapping fins reminiscent of the scales of a fish.

With curves that evoke nearby waters and Ovation’s own undulating lines, glass that simultaneously transmits and reflects light, and reflective surfaces that capture ambient activity of nearby trees, sky and passersby, the fixed sculpture takes on a distinct animated character — creating what the artist describes as a “passively kinetic sculpture.”

Headquartered in Napa, Calif., Huether has been creating large-scale public projects, residential commissions and fine art for more than 25 years.  Gordon has developed an innate sensitivity to and mastery of a variety of media. Inspired by material qualities and how they affect an environment.

The unveiling heralds other Ovation-commissioned art for community spaces inside.

Three Susan Gott Sculptures and Barbara Sorensen Boat (right)
Three Susan Gott Sculptures and Barbara Sorensen Boat (right)

Winter Park sculptor and printmaker Barbara Sorensen is best known for her large-scale geological forms in clay, resins and metals. While her commissioned work for Ovation – a two-part piece titled “Boats” — is of a more modest size, it is no less monumental. The highly textured forms, each measuring about 4½ feet by 2 feet by 18 inches tall, will be suspended above two elliptical chests lighted from beneath, creating the appearance of moonlight glancing off water – or perhaps phosphorescence commonly seen on the ocean at night.

Also located in the main lobby, Tampa artist Susan Gott’s six life-size figurative sculptures of translucent cast glass are layered with color, carvings, lines and symbols to create forms of captivating depth and detail. The pieces, set in niches on facing walls in the lobby, reflect Gott’s interest in mythological imagery, symbolism, and traditions from historic and ancient cultures. 

Serving as backdrop for these and other artists’ works are the clean, uncluttered lines of Ovation itself. Designed by Tampa architect Al Santiesteban of Smith Santiesteban Allen Architects Inc., plus finishes and furniture by Godfrey Design, Inc., the building’s contemporary setting blends with St. Petersburg’s eclectic flavor, while graceful curvilinear lines ease the impressive silhouette into the cityscape.  Private tours are available by calling 727-898-1180.

‘A Model Home with a Soul’

Dramatic views and warm textures come together in Ovation’s newest showcase model to create a stunning home with a soul. Perched 18 stories above St. Petersburg’s beautiful waterfront, you’ll be struck by how green the cityscape is, with ancient oaks, tropical vegetation and, of course, our famous banyan trees blanketing much of the scene. Vying for your attention are other animated vignettes, including Straub Park, The Pier, marina, airport and the inviting waters of Tampa Bay.Ovation_1801_LIving_FL_Room_%c2%a9Rob_Harris[1]

Created by the dynamic design team at Godfrey Design Consultants of Winter Park, the half-story, 3,660-square-foot estate home speaks volumes about the way we want to live – in comfort! Four balconies, an elevator entry directly into a private foyer, and practical floor plan conspire to make every moment pure pleasure.

Designed for a comfortably casual chic lifestyle, cheerful apricots, greens and yellows accent a neutral background of light wide-plank wood floors, cool walls and eye-catching built-in details. A wood beamed ceiling and a unique stained-and-painted media center in the family room foster the feeling of a single family home. And the light, airy master suite is relaxation in the extreme, highlighted by welcoming and warm artwork. The bath is neutral in tone for a complementary serene retreat.

Throughout the home, a crisp modern motif combines with beautiful materials, textures, light and color to create a sophisticated, eclectic yet ever-so-inviting interior. Ovation_1801_Master_Balcony_%c2%a9Rob_Harris[1]

Slated for completion this week, Ovation offers an intimate get-to-know-your-neighbors setting with just 45 homes in all. And with 60% of those homes already spoken for, right now is the best time to select the location and views of your choice and lock in introductory prices and historically low interest rates.

And JMC Communities is surely the best builder to place your trust in. With 31 years of well-measured growth and building excellence, more than 4,000 satisfied purchasers (fully 10 percent of whom return again and again for the next JMC masterpiece), and the respect of industry leaders and subcontractors alike, this hometown builder offers stability, consistency and enduring value.

Ovation Receives Certificate of Occupancy

GREAT NEWS!!!  After two and a half years of meticulous preparations – and an intense concentration in the last two months –JMC Communities’  Ovation was awarded its Certificate of Occupancy (CO) yesterday.

A CO is a legal document signed by the City’s building official that declares a building safe to occupy; its focus is on code compliance and life safety. Buildings must meet rigorous standards in three major areas: building, fire and engineering. Inspections may take from four to six weeks to get through all areas.

Ovation on Beach Drive, Center Stage Downtown St. Petersburg
Ovation on Beach Drive, Center Stage Downtown St. Petersburg

A project like Ovation is extremely complicated and massive in its scope of basic design and safety systems and began the inspection process many weeks ago, with a different area being inspected (or prepped) each day.

While the inspections can heighten pressure and add to last-minute complexities, they’re nothing JMC hasn’t completed (with flying colors) many times in the past 31 years. There’s also great satisfaction in seeing it all come together. 

“Words like fun, joy, relief and great pride surround the issuance of a CO,” says project manager Steve Coppins. “And, while we’re definitely celebrating the CO, we’ll still be nose-to-grindstone until every detail is complete.

“The CO allows us to occupy Ovation,” he continues, “but our focus post-CO will be to ensure it is a building ready to be lived in – punched out, clean, secure and 100-percent functional from an operational standpoint. And we’re really enjoying sharing all the details of these extraordinary homes with the soon-to-be residents.”

Located on prestigious Beach Drive and 2nd Avenue NE overlooking downtown St. Petersburg’s waterfront, Ovation is JMC Communities’ twelfth condominium development in Pinellas County.