Perot Museum of Science & Nature

May 31, 2011 — 13 Comments

Dallas Museum of Natural Science logo

I recently collected these job site photos after wanting to check in on the progress of the new Morphosis designed Nature & Science building myself. My daughter Kate and I had just spent the day knocking about in the current Museum of Nature & Science down in Fair Park and there was an exhibit on display focused on the new building. Kate wasn’t all that interested in it but she was a good sport about letting me wander around the displays. Afterwards, I thought others would probably like to see where things are at as well. Dallas is beyond having a few interesting and notable buildings; if you are an architecture fan and you haven’t come to Dallas, you are missing out in a very big way.


Dallas Perot Science and Natural History Museum

On November 18, 2009, the Museum of Nature & Science broke ground on a world-class, state-of-the-art museum at Victory Park in Downtown Dallas, which will supplement the Museum’s existing programming and operations at Fair Park. The $185-million museum will be named the Perot Museum of Nature & Science. Here are some fast facts about the new museum that The Dallas Morning News architecture critic Scott Cantrell called “the boldest piece of modern architecture to hit Dallas.”

Site Area: 4.7 Acres

Building Size: 180,000 gross square feet

Estimated Construction Dates: 2010 – 2013

Estimated Construction Cost: $185 million (includes site acquisition, exhibition planning and design, construction of the new building, education programs and an endowment)

Dallas Perot Science and Nature Museum under construction

Dallas Perot Science and Natural History Museum

Project Description:

  • The design features an overall building mass conceived as a large cube floating over a landscaped plinth (roof).
  • The landscape consists of an acre of rolling roofscape comprised of rock and native drought-resistant grasses reflecting Texas’s indigenous landscape and demonstrates a living system that will evolve naturally over time.
  • A significant feature is the 54-foot continuous-flow escalator contained in a 150-foot glass-enclosed tube-like structure that dramatically extends outside the building.
  • A large urban plaza – complete with cafe tables, seating and water features – will be available for gatherings and public events.
  • The building itself will be used as a “living” example of engineering, sustainability and technology at work.

Dallas Perot Science and Nature Museum by Morphosis

Museum Features:

  • Five floors of public space – approximately 80 percent of the building, which is a remarkably high degree – is devoted for public usage.
  • Expansive glass-enclosed lobby and adjacent outdoor terrace with downtown view.
  • 10 permanent exhibition halls including a children’s museum and outdoor playspace/courtyard.
  • State-of-the-art traveling exhibition gallery designated to host world-class exhibitions.
  • Ground-level exhibit workshops surrounded by large windows making workshop activity accessible for public viewing.
  • Education wing equipped with six learning labs.
  • Large-format, multi-media digital cinema with seating for 300.
  • Flexible-space auditorium
  • Public café and retail store
  • Exhibit workshops visible from the ground level
  • Offices for museum staff

Dallas Perot Science and Nature Museum by Morphosis

Environmental Features:

  • The building and the outdoor areas will be used as “a dynamic science lesson and living lab” providing provocative examples of engineering, technology and conservation.
  • A rain-water collection system will capture run-off from the roof and parking lot to fill two 25,000-gallon cisterns, which will satisfy all non-potable water needs.


Dallas Perot Science and Nature Museum

Perot Science and Nature Museum by Morphosis

Dallas Perot Science and Nature Museum by Morphosis

Dallas Perot Science and Nature Museum by Morphosis

Dallas Perot Science and Nature Museum by Morphosis

I enjoyed running around the outside of the site taking these photos and I am excited to see how the building will ultimately sit on the undulating base. It was difficult to not “accidentily” wander onto the jobsite and take a closer look at things … but this is a pretty serious jobsite and jail would not have been out of the question if I had slipped inside.

I don’t do that sort of thing anymore … not unless I want to violate the conditions of my parole (kidding).


Bob-AIA scale figure

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  • Nsraverkar

    What are those panels made of? Your pictures show a lot of detail of the construction site.

    • Pre-cast concrete

      Here is a more current post and within this post you will find a link that discusses the pre-cast concrete panels that were fabricated by Gates.

  • J.S.Koke

    Thanks Bob. Nice photos. If you would like a tour, let me know.
    We’ll keep you out of jail.

    Jeffrey S. Koke, P.E.
    Senior Associate
    214.358.0174 Datum Engineers, Inc.
    The Art of Structural Engineering

  • May I just say your depth of field is crazy (in a good way). When you find out more about those panels, let us know; we’re probably all salivating over it (or is it just me?). Is there a completion date for the park over the freeway? I made a visit to the Wyly and Winspear about a year ago – both impressive. Can’t wait for all of those to be finished and see the final result. Thanks for the update!

  • Stephen Lin

    Nice photography! Speaking of museums, have you seen the progress on Museum Tower? Not exactly as innovative in design but exciting for what it may do to downtown and the Arts District if people actually move there!

  • Larry Bloom, AIA

    Love the tilt-shift photography. It really brings out the detail in the building. I serioiusly can’t wait for this to open. First, I was a huge Morphosis fan in college and I still love Mayne’s work. My daughter and I have also visited the museum in FP. We spent a good 4 hours there looking at all the dinosaurs, rocks, IMAX, and other exhibits. And yes, I had to check out the expansion exhibit. My favorite, actually. Love models. Madelyn was actually excited to see what’s coming in the new exhibit halls.
    Thanks for the update and photo’s!

    • The models were cool. I was kicking myself for mot having brought my camera with me. It might just warrant a return trip just for that!

  • Those panels are amazing!

    • those panels are really amazing. I was thinking about contacting the construction company to ask about them … you know, in all my spare time. I know some people at the local firm that is working with Morphosis and was going to talk to them. I’ll let you know what I discover.

  • Thanks for the construction photos.  I find them fascinating, but this post saddens me a bit.  It seems like Dallas is doing quite a bit to make Fair Park a collection of beautiful, empty, art deco buildings that nobody visits (other than architects and historians).  I know that the new museum is supposed to “supplement” the Fair Park Science Place, but come on…really…all traveling exhibits will now go to the new museum, and most attention will go to it too.  Seems like just a matter of time before it is empty.  Fair Park has run off the train museum, the Cotton bowl is now elsewhere, and we have the Dallas World aquarium stealing the thunder of the wonderful jewel-box of an aquarium in Fair Park.  I guess the aquarium is still hanging in there and has even gone through a renovation and improvement of its exhibits, so hopefully I am wrong and Fair Park can survive having some of the attention focused elsewhere.

    • Garth,

      I am with you on a few of your points. Fair Park does have some amazing buildings that’s for sure. As an architect, I love wandering around them … but as the father of a 6 year old, those buildings kinda suck. We have memberships all over the place but the old aquarium was dreadful – although the renovation is quite nice and a big improvement – that needed to happen. The existing Science Place is not laid out all that well in my opinion (although we still make it there several times a year). You can see the limitations the existing space has to deal with and it limits the exhibits they can take on.

      I am excited that the Downtown Arts District is going to be such an amazing place and I am hopeful that it will continue the revitalization of the entire downtown area. Can you imagine all these buildings so closely located and once the Woodall Rogers Park opens that is going to be an incredible area.

      I know I hijacked your comment a little, it would be nice to see that money go into revitalizing the Fair Park area – that’s what the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium was supposed to do – to bad Laura Miller was the Mayor at the time. Losing that stadium to Arlington was criminal and so short sighted it still irritates me.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment – I really appreciate it.

  • Brodie

    Cool building.  A side question, just since you didn’t reference it, I’m curious.  You seem to have gone through the effort of blurring out a lot of the backgrounds in the photos.  Any particular reason?

    • no particular reason other than I wanted the focus on this particular building and not the surrounding ones. In all, it probably added about 10 minutes to the prep time for this post.