VIDEO: SMU holds Topping Out Ceremony for George W. Bush Presidential Center
Published: Monday, October 3, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Dozens of SMU community members, donors and media outlets joined former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the Topping Out Ceremony for the George W. Bush Presidential Center Monday morning.
The ceremony was held to celebrate placing the last beam atop the center's Freedom Hall, which will serve as an entrance to the building. The "Topping Out" tradition typically includes raising the beam with an evergreen tree to represent a celebration of safety during construction and good wishes. Monday morning, both American and Texas flags were also attached to the beam.
"It exceeds expectations," said President Bush of the new center. "It's going to be a fabulous addition."
The center, which will be the most urban of its kind in the United States, will be home to a museum dedicated to the highlights of President Bush's presidency, a presidential institute where both former President and Mrs. Bush will keep offices, as well as a restaurant, public park, and native Texas landscaping.
According to Robert Stern, the project's architect, the building will also qualify for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum rating, which means the building will be environmentally friendly and efficient with energy.
Obtaining this rating was a difficult task, as the presidential archives that will be housed in the building require very specific temperature and lighting requirements, according to Stern. However, by using natural materials developed within a 500-mile radius of the building site, as well as using strictly native Texas plants in the landscaping, designers of the building have managed to keep the building efficient.
"We're very excited to be using so many local materials," said Mrs. Bush, who added that her favorite part of the center will be the landscaping.
The stone that surrounds much of the building's landscaping comes from Garden City, Texas, where both President and Mrs. Bush grew up, according to Mrs. Bush. The landscaping design will also include trees from the Bush family's tree farm at their Crawford, Texas ranch.
Both President and Mrs. Bush emphasized the role that they will play in the center, continuing to work on important policy issues from their new offices on SMU's campus.
"The challenge after you're president is to make sure you're still constructive," said President Bush.
Policy issues that will be focused on at the center include education, promotion of economic growth, global health, and human freedom around the world.
"Deep in everyone's soul is the desire to live in a free society," said President Bush.
The center will house 70 million pages of archived information from the presidency and 80 terabytes of data. It will also include a replica of the oval office, an area for temporary exhibits, and a wall of information and decision points that will allow visitors to reflect on the decisions they might have made in President Bush's shoes.
"The center will serve as a gateway for scholarly discussion and debate," said Mark Langdale, president of the George W. Bush Foundation.
The grand opening of the center is set for the spring of 2013, when the doors of the classic SMU red brick building will open.
"If you put together this weekend and today, this is a great week in Mustangland," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.
Video shot and edited by Bridget Bennett, email@example.com