George goes Georgian

Sharon McHugh
Wednesday 18 Nov 2009

Bush Presidential Library design unveiled

The design for the George W. Bush Presidential Center was unveiled today in Dallas, Texas by former First Lady Laura Bush, Architect Robert A. M. Stern and Landscape Architect Matthew Urbanski. To be located on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) on a 23.11 acre site, the Center will be a modern brick and limestone structure that complements the American Georgian character of SMU’s campus set in a low-maintenance quintessentially Texan landscape.

The light filled building, which is intended to be both presidential and welcoming, will include elements that evoke both Texas and Washington, and will house three components: an Archive, a Museum, and a policy Institute.

Visitors will enter the building through the Freedom Hall, a large, light filled open space that will tie the different aspects of the museum experience together. On one side of the Hall, is located the Museum’s permanent exhibit, which will include a replica of the Oval Office as it was during President Bush’s tenure, complete with an outdoor Texas Rose Garden that mimics the proportion and scale of the White House Rose Garden. The Museum will tell the story of the presidency by examining key decisions and the core principles that defined President Bush’s service: freedom, opportunity, responsibility and compassion, according to the architects. On the opposite side of Freedom Hall is located a temporary exhibit space, a ceremonial courtyard and a café.

The Institute portion of the building will have its own entrance. It will include a conference center with a 364-seat auditorium with simultaneous translation and broadcast capabilities, along with numerous offices for scholars and a presidential suite for receptions and other functions. The Archive will house the official documents and artifacts of the Bush administration.

The landscape, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, is intended as an urban park. It features seasonable displays in the wildflower meadow, large shaded trees for sitting, picnicking, and playing, numerous gardens and courtyards, tall grass prairie with seasonal wildflowers, and savannah and woodland clearings that provide a range of native habitat for butterflies, birds and other wildlife species.

The building, which is designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, is anticipated to open in 2013.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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