George W. Bush Presidential Center
The 23-acre George W. Bush Presidential Center (GWBPC) site casts a new regionally specific landscape as an emblem of democracy, creating public outdoor space for visitors from near and far, enriching the context for the museum and library building designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, and bringing the ecology of North Central Texas to the foreground.
Situated between the outer edges of the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus and the roaring North Central Expressway, the GWBPC not only fits seamlessly into its urban context, but also improves it.
The landscape increases biodiversity, restores native habitat, and minimizes the new building’s environmental impact. A series of vegetated swales and retention areas, artfully woven through the landscape, ensures that stormwater rarely leaves the site, reducing impacts on urban drainage systems. Organic maintenance regimes minimize water use and eliminate the need for costly fertilizers and pesticides that degrade the environment.
An extensive system of trails guides visitors through floodplain forest, wildflower meadow, tall grass prairie, savanna, woodland, and wet prairie, all carefully intertwined and balanced to provide seasonal displays of functioning, self-sufficient ecosystems. Any kind of user can enjoy this range of experiences throughout the year, whether following the ADA-accessible trails that wind through the site or wandering along a mown path through a meadow.
Partially shaded lawns frame the edges of the park, creating open and inviting public spaces that students, visitors, neighbors, and staff can use at their leisure. A stone amphitheater supports a range of programmed events but also offers a place for smaller-scale gatherings.
This graphic illustrates the variety of native plant communities that were remade on the site. The creation of specific microclimates through new topography and water management supports a range of landscapes native to the North Texas.
The design of the GWBPC engages the pressing social and environmental issues of the 21st century in ways that make the landscape surprising, memorable, and informative.