Groundbreaking to Take Place Tuesday

November 14, 2010  

By Hayley Bosch

Former President George W. Bush is scheduled to break ground on his long-awaited Presidential Library this Tuesday. Thousands of guests, as well as protesters, are expected.

The invitation-only event will take over campus beginning Monday morning. Streets on the east side of campus will be closed to make way for the event.

The 24-acre site will soon boast a 225,000 square-foot building surrounded by a 3-foot retaining wall as is the federal security requirement. Beginning Tuesday, what looks like an empty dirt lot will be transformed into a facility that will put SMU on the map.

The single building on the grounds, featuring a museum, library and archives, policy institute, gift shop and cafés, will don replicas of both the White House Rose Garden and the Oval Office of George W. Bush. The building is designed to achieve Platinum Certification, the highest possible distinction under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. Regionally sourced building materials, including limestone from Midland, Texas, where the Bushes first met, and the utilization of 20 percent recycled materials are among many of features within the sustainable design of the building.

A special exhibit at Meadows Museum previews some of the historic holdings that will eventually be moved to the museum when the Presidential Center is complete. The exhibit, “Breaking New Ground: Presenting the George W. Bush Presidential Center,” allows visitors a sneak peek into what the Bush Foundation is all about. Floor plans of the Center and the initiatives of The Bush Institute are showcased in the exhibit, which runs through February 6, 2011.

The museum within the Presidential Center plans to tell the story of the leadership of President and Mrs. Bush. It will feature artifacts from the presidency, such as Saddam Hussein’s pistol retrieved upon his capture, and handwritten notes made by Bush as he planned a statement immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Also on display will be more personal items, such as a sweatshirt worn by the president as he threw the ceremonial first pitch of the 2001 World Series at the Yankees Stadium and a baseball bat from the Hall of Fame.

The former president kicked off his book tour with a book-signing of “Decision Points” last week in Dallas. The timely release fell exactly one week before the groundbreaking ceremony and was met with anti-water boarding protests. Thousands have planned to protest at Tuesday’s groundbreaking, starting with a march from Mockingbird Station to the SMU campus.

Follow the Daily Mustang from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday as we team up with The Dallas Morning News for live coverage of the groundbreaking.

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