Architecture dean to design Bush Library

Yale School of Architecture Dean Robert Stern will design the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation announced Tuesday.

The President and First Lady Laura Bush made the decision after meeting with Stern on Aug. 23 at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, said Taylor Griffin, the spokesman for the foundation. Stern, the founder of Robert A.M. Stern Architects, will be the lead designer for the project. The library will likely be located on the campus of Southern Methodist University, a private university in Dallas, although a final site decision has not yet been announced.

Griffin said Stern’s resources and reputation made his 300-person firm an attractive option to the Bushes and to a five-member site selection committee.

“The firm has a great deal of experience designing buildings in an academic environment, and additionally, Robert A.M. Stern has a reputation as one of America’s foremost architects,” Griffin said.

Stern said he has not yet begun developing a design for the project, which will consist of two buildings: a library and museum in one building, and a public policy institute in another structure. The President and First Lady have expressed interest in developing a sort of “mini-campus,” Stern said. A project budget has yet to be determined.

A top official at SMU said he is excited about Stern’s appointment.

“We’re very proud of Dr. Stern’s work, and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to work with him,” said Brad Cheves, SMU’s vice president for development and external affairs. “Dr. Stern is one of the nation’s most distinguished architects and has designed some of the most dignified structures across the country.”

Cheves said that even though a final decision about the library site has not yet been announced, he thinks SMU would be an ideal location for the library. SMU’s campus is in “a tranquil urban setting,” Cheves said, which would be an asset for visiting scholars and students.

SMU has a long-standing tradition of Georgian architecture, a style it has maintained in new buildings on its campus. Stern’s architectural style would be a good fit for SMU, Cheves said.

Stern has designed other structures in Dallas and has visited SMU before. He said he hopes to construct buildings at SMU that will both honor the campus’ traditional style and create their own architectural statement.

“The balance between being a neighbor and a part of the SMU campus and designing a new building with its own character will be one of the hardest jobs I’ll have to tackle, but I’m constantly thinking about it,” Stern said.

Should SMU be selected, Cheves said, the most likely location for the library would be on the eastern side of SMU’s main campus. SMU and foundation officials said they do not know when a final site for the project will be announced.

“We’re in exclusive discussions with the site selection committee, and we’re hopeful that they will conclude positively,” Cheves said.

The other finalist for the site is Baylor University in Waco, Texas. First Lady Laura Bush is an SMU alumna.

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