New renderings of the Perot Museum of Nature & Science were unveiled today. The museum, being built along the Woodall Rodgers Freeway, will feature an acre of rolling Texas landscape around it as well as sustainable systems, including a rain-catch and solar water heater (for LEED “green” certification). One notable element for the future: The entire building, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne, can be doubled. If need be, there’s enough room on the 4.7 acre site to create a mirror image of the cube-like construction.
When it’s completed in 2013, the Perot will join the nearby Winspear Opera House and Wyly Theatre as the latest eye-catcher for downtown Dallas. Although it’s essentially a squat cube, the museum will still stand out for its angled support columns that seemingly lift up parts of the cube like a skirt, the signature glassed-in escalator, running diagonally up the outside of one wall, and its semi-corrugated surface. (Think of it as sort of a horizontal version of the cube-ish, corrugated Wyly, which has an exterior elevator). In combination with the field of Texas flora along the building’s base, the lower, furrowed surface of the Perot will evoke the limestone layers in a canyon wall or along a dry creek bed.
That ‘natural’ element will be repeated throughout — with the organic curves of the landscaping in contrast to the blocky building, the windows and skylights like giant slashes in the building’s surface permitting sunshine to enter (a rarity in most museums) and several of the themed exhibitions inside, including ‘Earth Systems,’ ‘Life Systems,’ the paleontology hall (“Life Then and Now”) and so on. There will be 10 exhibit halls along with an auditorium and public cafe.
Perot Museum officials also announced the Final 50, a campaign to raise the last $50 million for the $185 million project. A community open house will be held Aug. 28 from 1-3 p.m. at the Museum’s construction site. And the Perot has set up a webcam so people may track its progress.