Opinion: New George W. Bush Presidential Center will include -- surprise! -- some Texas style


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Much like the man who inspires it, the new George W. Bush Presidential Center will be a combination of Texas style and East Coast tradition. That’s the word on the renderings of the 225-square-foot, $250-million center.

The plans for the center, to be built at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, were released Wednesday and, in the words of Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, “carry no hint of the swagger, bravado or taste for confrontation that Bush was known for as president.” Among the Texas touches will be pecan wood paneling and, outside, wildflowers, bluebonnets and prairie.


On The Times’ Culture Monster blog, Hawthorne writes:

Designed by New York’s Robert A.M. Stern, arguably the country’s leading historicist architect, the library is a handsome, contextual piece of architecture wrapped in Texas limestone (which may sound like a euphemism, like ‘Texas tea,’ but isn’t) and red brick. Though on its main facades it uses classical themes in a mostly abstract way, rather than literally, it is very much meant to complement SMU’s predominantly Georgian-style landmarks.

A statement released by the center sums up the blend of styles this way:

The light-filled building is both presidential and welcoming, includes elements that evoke both Texas and Washington, and will house the three components of the George W. Bush Presidential Center: an Archive, a Museum and a policy Institute.

Check out Hawthorne’s full article for more on the center, plus more renderings of the buildings and site.

We can’t help wondering if the center will include an exhibit on weapons of mass destruction. It could even be interactive -- visitors could wander the complex and never find the WMD. Just a thought.

-- Steve Padilla

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Upper photo: Artist rendering of the Bush Presidential Center. Credit: Robert A.M. Stern

Lower photo: Former First Lady Laura Bush at news conference Wednesday announcing plans for the new center. Credit: Associated Press