PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Former First Lady Unveils Bush Library Design
November 18, 2009
By Chris Dell
The public now knows what the vacant, dusty lot on the east side of the SMU campus will look like in the not-too-distant future.
Former first lady Laura Bush, architect Robert A.M. Stern and landscape architect Matthew Urbanski unveiled the design of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and the surrounding landscape at the Collins Executive Center.
The library, to be finished in 2013, will be built on a falling slope, with the south side of the building standing three stories tall. The main entrance will be on the north side facing SMU Boulevard, with a public parking lot situated across the street. A west entrance will be approachable by foot from Binkley Avenue.
Stern, dean of the Yale University School of Architecture, called the library design “sort of Georgian.” SMU’s buildings follow a theme of Georgian architecture, an old European style characterized by rectangular windows and brick exteriors.
Bush said she wanted the library design to incorporate a rustic Georgian feel with more modern features.
“I like every bit of it,” said Bush, who chaired the design committee. “I wanted this to be a ‘forward’ building, because George was the first president of the 21st century, and have it be modern in that way. I think it will fit in with the Georgian campus.”
Library to be topped by “lantern”
The key feature of the building, according to Stern, will be Freedom Hall, an open room crowned by a 60-feet tall raised ceiling with wrap-around windows to let in sunlight. Stern called it the “lantern” that he hopes will become a symbol of the SMU campus, similar to the dome on top of Dallas Hall. Visitors also will be able to visit an exact-sized replica of the oval office, then exit to the Texas Rose Garden or visit other parts of the library.Mark Langdale, president of the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, said the content of the library and museum will be unveiled sometime next year. She hinted that a room dedicated to September 11 will be particularly moving.
Texas-themed landscaping will be south of the library, with a lacrosse field, football field and tennis courts located on the east side of Dublin Street near Mockingbird Lane.
Urbanski said the south-side landscaping will resemble a native Texas field, with bluebonnets and prairie grass surrounding footpaths and an ampatheater. On the north side, Urbanski said SMU Boulevard will be curved to slow down traffic, and a footpath will connect the main parking lot and the visitor entrance.
Turner discusses library entrance fees, sophomore housing
SMU president R. Gerald Turner said after the event that he hopes students and faculty will be able to enter the library “for free, or a very,very reduced amount.” He said, however, that the National Archives and Records Administration ultimately will determine how to handle pricing options. Also, the library will feature a café and restaurant, at which he hopes students can use their meal plans.
Turner also said he plans for sophomore housing to be located at the current site of the abandoned Mrs. Bairds Bread Factory and behind Park Cities Plaza. He hopes to break ground at those locations next year and have the residence halls finished in 2013.