It's Only Natural

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Donna Scoggins
December 14, 2012

The average person accidentally eats 430 bugs each year of his or her life, according to the city’s newest cultural coup. While that fact may be a little hard to swallow, it’s The Perot Museum of Nature and Science that causes most to gasp. Instead of creating a structure designed to merely house exhibits, Thom Mayne (2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate) and his California-based firm Morphosis Architects worked in tandem with Dallas-based landscape architects Talley Associates to create something alive and kinetic. Described as a floating cube with an undulating roofscape and landscaped base, the 180,000-square-foot museum boasts five floors, 11 permanent exhibits, a 3-D theater, an iconic escalator and enough environmental integrity to make it a sustainable standout — it is one of only a handful of buildings in the U.S. to qualify for three green certifications: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Green Globes and Sustainable Sites Initiative. Every angle was thoughtfully conceived to convey a sense of connectivity, blurring the building’s boundaries so that elements such as the “living” roof, cars passing on the freeway, the Dallas skyline and a 35-foot dinosaur can all be seen from the main lobby alone. You (and/or the kids) can shake, rattle and hopefully not roll atop an earthquake simulator; compare a slew of sports skills against those of pro athletes; and nosh on gourmet edibles at The Café, operated by Wolfgang Puck’s Restaurant Associates. Named in honor of Margot and Ross Perot (thanks to a substantial gift from their five children), the $185 million museum came to life with the help of many talented individuals, including some of Texas’ most prominent philanthropic foundations (think Hoglund, Moody, Hunt, Hill and T. Boone Pickens) — it’s also remarkable to note that this project was built without public funding or debt. When asked to reflect on his vision, Mayne said, “I resist the urge to tell people what it’s about because we hope it leads to many conversations and perspectives. It was designed to engage. I suppose you could say it’s a cultural artifact.” We suggest you make tracks and explore it yourself. 2201 N. Field St, 214.428.5555;