Each president gets a library and museum to house his collection of material, gifts and artifacts received during his time in office. The George W. Bush Library is housed on the edge of SMU, which is the alma mater of Laura Bush. Designed by New York firm Robert A.M. Stern, the center complements the Georgian architecture of the surrounding campus and makes use of locally-sourced brick and Texas Cordova Cream limestone. The centerpiece of the library is the tall, lantern-like Freedom Hall, which pulls daylight into the heart of the building and at night glows like a beacon. Inside, the center features public exhibition galleries, a replica of the Oval office, a library, an auditorium, meeting rooms, a cafe and a Texas Rose Garden. One of the main attractions is an interactive exhibit where visitors learn about the presidential decision making process and have a chance to step into the shoes of “The Decider.”
The George W. Bush Library is the first of the presidential libraries to earn a LEED Platinum rating. Besides the use of local and recycled materials, the center also features shaded balconies and brises-soleils on the south and west facades, green and highly-reflective roofs to reduce energy use for cooling. There are also rooftop photovoltaic arrays, rooftop solar hot water panels, rainwater harvesting, and highly-efficient building systems. The surrounding landscape is a living exhibit of the Texas landscape in a 15-acre public park that features native prairie grasses, wildflowers and trees that work to soak up stormwater and minimizes the use of potable water for irrigation.
The center was dedicated on April 26th, 2013 in a ceremony attended by all the living presidents and their wives. The George W. Bush Presidential Library opened to the public on May 1st.
Images © Peter Aaron and Eric Draper