Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Thom Mayne, Morphosis Architects, DallasPhoto by Mark Andrew Boyer for Inhabitat

As visitors approach the new Perot Museum on opening day next month, they’ll be struck by the building’s dynamic facade. With its undulating, geologic patterning, it’s almost as if the cube-shaped form was lifted directly out of the earth. The outer skin of the 170-foot-tall museum is sheathed in more than 650 textured precast concrete panels, giving the building a unique graphic aesthetic. The lines create visual interest, and when the sun hits the building’s different textures, it takes on different shapes.

The concrete used on the exterior panels weighs in at over 4 million pounds. Inside, the curved concrete paneling continues, carrying the lines from the facade to every floor. The building is a testament to recent advances in 3D modeling. To create the unique concrete panels, several different rubber molds were used, which could be moved around to make different patterns. The standardized, modular system helped to keep costs down and to keep construction moving forward (the entire budget for the building was $185 million).

Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Thom Mayne, Morphosis Architects, DallasPhoto by Mark Andrew Boyer for Inhabitat

The building is located on 4.7 acres of former brownfield, and it’s aiming for three environmental certifications — LEED, Sustainable Sites Initiative and Green Globes. LEDs are used throughout the building, as well as natural daylighting, to reduce energy costs. Learning labs, located on the building’s lower level, have light wells, which enable the rooms to be partially lit by natural light.

One of the most interesting features of the building is the roof — instead of a traditional green roof, the Perot Museum features a hardscape of stones and drought-tolerant plants that are meant to reflect the Texas ecology. The roof also features solar thermal (hot water) panels, and a rainwater collection system will store up to 50,000 gallons of water to be used for irrigation. Dallas-based firm Talley Associates served as the project’s landscape architect, and the firm planted more than 60 different types of trees, grasses and shrubs on the grounds surrounding the new building.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Thom Mayne, Morphosis Architects, DallasPhoto by Mark Andrew Boyer for Inhabitat

Inside, visitors will step into the grand lobby, which features a Malawisaurus skeleton and an interactive ‘dancing water’ molecules display that is motion activated. From the lobby, visitors can board a 54-foot continuous escalator, which is located in a long glass enclosure. The escalators only go up in the Perot Museum, and visitors are expected to take the stairs to go down. One of the most impressive features of the building is the The Hoglund Foundation Theater, which is located on the first floor. The 300-seat theater features richly textured walls that are lit with LED lights and a state-of-the-art 4K digital projection system. Although it’s as tall as a typical 14-story building, the Perot Museum only contains 5 floors, because the ceilings had to be tall enough to accommodate dinosaur fossils and other large exhibits.

Architect Thom Mayne has described the new Perot Museum as a “living educational tool featuring architecture inspired by nature and science,” and indeed it is. With exhibits ranging from dinosaurs to gems and minerals and renewable energy, the museum should appeal to visitors of all ages when it opens its doors on December 1.

+ Morphosis Architects

+ Perot Museum of Nature and Science

All photos by Mark Andrew Boyer for Inhabitat. To view more photos of the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science, visit Inhabitat’s Flickr set.