GWB PRESIDENTIAL CENTER
Dallas, TX (2008–2013)
The 15-acre park at the George W. Bush Presidential Center is a unique feature among presidential libraries and reflects President and Mrs. Bush’s love of the native Texas landscape and their belief that the Center should contribute to the everyday life of nearby communities. The landscape also contributes to the Presidential Center’s ambitious sustainability objectives by increasing biodiversity, restoring native habitat, reducing the need for irrigation, and employing an organic maintenance program. These landscape achievements helped the Presidential Center building, designed by Robert A.M. Stern, earn Platinum-LEED certification.
The Presidential Center’s landscape stands out from its context by design: it gives visitors an opportunity to experience native Texas ecoregions that once thrived in the area but which had in recent years disappeared. Recreating native ecologies in this formerly urban condition required careful consideration of soils, water, topography, sun, and plant species. The landscape dramatically reduces irrigation needs by retaining and reusing much of the stormwater that falls on the site, including the roofs of the Presidential Center buildings. Vegetated bioswales conduct runoff to a wet prairie that removes sediments and feeds an underground tank, where the water is stored for reuse as irrigation.
The landscape, which forms the eastern edge of the Southern Methodist University campus, is open to all: benches and bridges along the extensive network of public paths provide places to stop and observe the landscape through the seasons. Partially shaded lawns frame the edges of the park, creating open and inviting public spaces that students, visitors, neighbors and staff can use in warmer months for sitting, picnicking, and playing. A stone amphitheater supports events but also offers a place for smaller-scale everyday gatherings.