California-based architects Morphosis, headed by founder Thom Mayne, have just put the finishing touches to the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas. Museums play a key role in our understanding of the world, offering enormous potential for education and cultural engagement, and this new arrival in the city's Victory Park aims to set the bar high.
The new Perot was designed to play a leading role in the city's cultural fabric, to inspire a broad audience of all ages and walks of life. It was also envisioned as a fundamentally public building, open to and animated by the people. Architecture was key in this effort. Transforming the building into an exhibit and a draw in itself, Mayne and his team orchestrated a union of architecture, nature and technology that creates a distinct identity and places the public at its very core.
The museum's entrance is reached through an opening containing two native Texas environments: a forest of large canopy trees and a desert xeriscaping (this is a garden that is free from - or has minimal - irrigation needs). The cube-shaped main volume floats lightly over this landscaping, which includes an open entry plaza, inviting the visitors in.
The composition's dynamism continues inside, where the visitor is greeted by a large open sky-lit atrium at the heart of the museum, which also acts as its main circulation space. Escalators lead directly to the glimmering building's very top where a fully glazed balcony offers spectacular views over Dallas. This is also where the journey through the galleries begins. Leaving this terrace, visitors are invited to work their way back down through a path that interweaves exhibition areas, circulation, natural environment and different views of the building, in an immersive spatial experience.
Additionally, in full accord to the museum's scientific focus, the structure incorporates state of the art technologies that allow for a high environmental performance. The goal for the Perot Museum is to achieve the highest standards of sustainability for a building of its kind, thus marrying functionality and architectural vision with environmental responsibility.