DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush were on hand at SMU Monday for a ceremony to show off a 225,000 square foot building that is being touted as the newest and most modern presidential library.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center scheduled to open to the public in the spring of 2013.
Construction workers used a crane to lower the final beam to the top of the building during Monday’s ceremony.
“Imagine what it’s like to be building this building during the hottest summer on record” said Mr. Bush, praising construction workers. “It’s going to be an exciting place, a place of learning, a place of scholarship but, most importantly, a place of action.”
It will include areas for researchers to comb through about 70 million paper documents and about 80 terabytes of electronic information.
The architect, the lead builder, the executive director of the Bush Library and the President of Southern Methodist University guided members of the media on a tour of the construction site Monday.
The tour started at what will be the front entrance of the center. Architect Robert Stern took reporters through an area that will be the foyer and serve as a security checkpoint.
“We want to make the security part as unobtrusive as possible,” Stern said.
Reporters were shown areas inside that will be called the Freedom Tower, an outer area where a public restaurant will be built and a portion of the World Trade Center, which will be part of the September 11th Terrorist Attack exhibit.
The center will also include a full-scale replica of the oval office, and a theatre that will allow students to discuss presidential decisions.
“We have a Decision Points Theatre where visitors can go in and choose from different scenarios like, for example, would you support the surge in Iraq,” said Alan Lowe, the library’s executive director.
Mr. and Mrs. Bush will have offices in the center. Mrs. Bush says this is where she and her husband will work on public policy issues in the arenas of education, global health, economic growth and freedom.
The former First Lady said the global initiatives are already underway in conferences that address education and empowerment for Afghan women.
Mrs. Bush says the center will serve as a location for leaders to speak and address national and international issues.
“We know that when half of an economy is left out of an economy then the economy usually can’t succeed,” she said.
Executives say the charge for admission has not yet been determined. Those conducting research will not be charged to enter.
Constructions include a 15-acre park and builders say the highest level of conservation and green measures are part of core of the design plan.