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First Look Inside Perot Science Museum In Dallas

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jeff Ray
Jeff joined CBS 11 and TXA 21 in December 2010. He came to North T...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The new Perot Science Museum of Dallas opens in December. At a cost of nearly $200 million, it presents a unique addition to the city’s skyline.

Thom Mayne is the award-winning architect of the building. He knows that its one-of-a-kind look will be forever linked to the Perot name. Inside, the building holds a mission to enlighten and educate both adults and children. “This is a unique building that has a very, very diverse audience,” Mayne told CBS 11 News at a media opening on Wednesday.

For the past two years, Dallas residents have watched a square building rise out from the raised landscape. As Mayne explained it, the cube shape represents the centuries-old trend to utilize squares to build spaces. The landscape where the cube sits represents the organic world, from where all of our building materials originate, and from where our species originates. The composition weds the natural world to a decidedly man-made shape. The cube is softened with a cadding that suggests the layering of sedimentary rock, an organic representation of the source material.

Mayne wants the design to make us all ponder this bound relationship between what nature made and what mankind made (and discovered). “It’s a cube,” explained Mayne, “and the dialogue is the city all around us, made of the cube really, right? Right-angle architecture on a very different kind of architecture, which you are not even sure is architecture.”

This is a building that cannot be ignored, especially perched on the edge of Woodall Rodgers Freeway, with landscaping that is purposefully elevated to the expressway’s height. The museum’s visual impact now forever links it to the city that surrounds it. This point is driven home on the main floor where the skyline is in view at every angle — just as science is in view everywhere in our lives.

These interconnections — between the cube and nature, between the cube and the city — lend to the educational mission of the science center. And interconnections are the display theme through the four floors. The exhibits weave together science, nature and the career possibilities which they hope to inspire.

Andrew Anway is the founder of Amaze Design, the Boston firm that designed the exhibits found on the fourth floor. “You can’t do any of the science disciplines without seeing the connection in all the others,” he said. “This museum has done a really good job at explaining how all these systems are interconnected.”

It is a state-of-the-art facility — no surprise, considering the price tag. The construction cost $185 million, with $50 million of that coming from the museum’s namesake, Ross Perot.

Perot knows that he has some critics on that price. CBS 11 News asked him about the museum Wednesday at a groundbreaking event for his newest development in Argyle. “[People ask,] ‘Perot, why did you spend all that money on this museum?’ [Because] it’s loaded with young people going into the museum, and they becoming fascinated with going into science and engineering which, right now, hardly anyone goes into.”

Perot is a champion of increasing American education efforts to produce more engineers. He went on to mention that the majority of students at the University of Texas at Arlington’s engineering school are from other countries. The Perot Science Museum of Dallas might be an odd shape for some tastes but, inside, it carries a goal to shape a new generation. It is a visual impact with a mission.

The grand opening for the Perot Science Museum of Dallas is set for December 1, when it will be opened to the public for the first time.

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