An Afternoon at the New Perot Museum, a Peek Inside the Geologically Striated Gray Cube

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Photos by Leslie Minora
The first in a series of escalators that will give visitors a lift from the sweeping lobby to the hall of dinosaurs.
A Perot Museum of Nature & Science curator wound us through the fourth floor of the partially completed space, calling upon visitors to imagine the 80-foot-long dinosaur that would soon occupy where he was standing. Next to that prehistoric giant will be the 25-foot Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum, that horned dino named after the Perot family, the $185-million museum's namesake and chief donor.

Another reptile will hang from the ceiling, with a wingspan the curator compared to a fighter jet and a true bird's-eye view of view of downtown from the windows on all sides of the museum's open floor plan. Architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis aimed to highlight the "middle ground between nature and architecture," he says. "And everything is connected to the city." And it's really freaking cool.

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The museum's public entrance plaza
Mayne is a master of fantasy-like architecture-speak. He says things like, "Everything around us is creeping into the building ... the indigenous landscape is coming through the roof" and around the building, to the edge of the windows, appearing as though encroaching on the interior in a "continuous connection between landscape and building."

Mayne designed the boxy structure, with a craggy gray facade reminiscent of undulating geologic formations, to look like a cube floating over a landscaped roof, which consists of more than one acre of garden space. The escalator, which occupies the glass rectangle that appears to be falling from the building's exterior, is designed as a playful "quasi-enigmatic" transport mode that appears to be taking people outside the building.

After guests exit the series of escalators that overlook Woodall Rogers and only go up, up, up, they will begin spiraling, via stairs or glass elevators, through the museum's floors of attractions ranging from prehistoric creatures to energy generation.

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Behold, the 3,700-pound opening and closing geode.
The project's third floor, one floor beneath the dinosaurs, houses a 3,700-pound geode from Uruguay with a steering wheel that, when spun, closes and opens the massive rock, like a massive imposing oyster. Geometric imitations of crystal structures jut from the walls. A short walk along the energy wall will lead visitors to a humongous rotating drill bit made to look as though it's drilling a well into the building. This portion of the museum exhibits energy exploration; there's even a "Christmas tree" well head just like those used at drilling operations. This is North Texas, after all.

Today's media sneak peek bypassed the second floor, home to the "engineering" and "being human" halls, and snaked through the lower level, which will house a sports hall, theater, temporary exhibit hall, classrooms, and a children's center with a replica dinosaur dig and a mock-up of the Great Trinity Forest.

Outside, the sweeping entrance plaza will be open to the public with access to the cafe and theater. Huge trees native to Northeast Texas will blanket the surrounding grounds, giving way to a frog pond and a musical forest. What's a musical forest? We're not sure either, but it should be a mythical experience when the museum opens early next year.

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A skylight view from the children's museum to the building's exterior.

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Construction crews prepare the exhibit about the future of energy.

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This hall marks the lower level intersection of the sports hall, the temporary exhibit space and the children's museum.

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15 comments
barrycb
barrycb

It's wonderful that the Energy Hall will have the most square footage of all.  Nothing captures the imagination of youngsters like energy exploration...

Elsando
Elsando

The photos of the inside look great and I can't wait to take the grand kids - but - I can't believe the exterior. I thought there was a cover that would be pulled off later - but wow - it looks like the mummy from an old Frankenstein movie. Then again, I probably have no taste.

John Perkins Heindel
John Perkins Heindel

Don't we already have a museum of nature and science at The Science Place at Fair Park?

MissTigraTX
MissTigraTX

Kudos to this new piece of architecture in our city. Big kudos to Balfour Beatty Construction, also, who is overseeing this project.  They have had a hand in this project and our luminous Omni Hotel - they are a great group....and one of the top 100 Companies to work for - I think #41. 

claytonauger
claytonauger

I dunno, the "energy" part sounds like EPCOT.

dallasmay
dallasmay

25 years from now:

Father: "And this is the type of drill that they used to drill oil wells. But we don't use oil as much as we used to anymore."

Son: "Why don't we use oil?"

Father: "Because in the middle 2012, Americans across the nation all suddenly figured out that spending trillions of dollars importing and hundreds of billions of dollars in millitary endeavors, on a finite liquid that badly pollutes the environment and made lots of people very sick, and even was a major cause of global warming, was quite silly. And we just stopped. We decided that we didn't need the stuff after all. And lots of smart people got together and set us on the track to the beautiful, clean, and prosperous world that we live in today."

Son: "Wow, those people in 2012 must have really been able to work together."  

(What I wouldn't give to be Don Quixote for a day.)

Rangers100
Rangers100

"Everything around us is creeping into the building ... the indigenous landscape is coming through the roof... and if you look off to your right you'll see Hooters..."

Leslie Minora
Leslie Minora

Yes, and a museum rep said that location will remain open. This is a massive expansion.

Lightsfantastic
Lightsfantastic

It will be comprehensive I can tell you that....I can't say why I know that though.

Commander
Commander

Son: What is this strange vehicle that looks like a child's toy and has the power of one?

Father: Why that's the Chevy Volt. When the Governement tried to take over the auto industry 25 years ago they thought they could force the agenda of a few left-wing environmental extremists on the American car buyer and force them to buy this little electric toy. They thought if they could regulate the American oil companies and deny them the opportunity to drill for more oil, thus restricting supply and raising prices because OPEC has more perceived power, then the American consumer would surely buy these and quit buying their gasoline guzzling monsters. But when they learned in March of 2012 that no one wanted to buy the Volt, they had to cut production. And once again the market prevailed because a good idea doesn't need government enforcement.

Son: What is Solendra?

Father: Where did you see that? That's not here. That's in Fantasy Land at Disney World in Orlando right along with the "Big Green Jobs" ride.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Father:  "Yes, son, we had to do without a lot of things, like plastics, I-phones, I-pads, computers, and efficient transportation and travel.  But once the great die-off from starvation and lack of medical advances tapered off, the 500 million or so of us left on the planet are doing pretty well."

As long as we're only looking at the story from one side, I thought I'd give the viewpoint of the other idiot extreme.

dallasmay
dallasmay

You must not have seen my Don Quixote comment at the end. Unless you were trying to be Quixote's opposite. I guess that would be insane AND miserable. In which case it really sucks to be you.

Lightsfantastic
Lightsfantastic

The Museum as a whole will move to the new building.The Science Building (The OLD SCIENCE PLACE) will close.  The city has not decided what to do with it yet.  The IMAX will remain as the Museum does not own, IMAX does.  The new museum will have a digital theater for educational films and for an expanded speaker series.  The Planetarium Building I believe will be turned over completely to Head Start which take's up most of the space already.  The Nature Building (The OLD NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM) will remain open as a legacy building.  The ground floor with the animal diorama's will remain open to the public, pure paleontology research will move upstairs into one side of the galleries(currently squeezed into a small area in the basement) with the remainder becoming office space.

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