What Do Presidential Libraries Say About Their Namesakes' Legacies?
43's George W. Bush Presidential Center was designed by New York-based architect Robert A.M. Stern to match the rest of SMU's Neo-Georgian campus. The brick and limestone structure is meant to evoke both Washington and Texas through its classical architecture and native landscaping (is that brush we see out front for Bush to clear?). The building is also chock-full of sustainable features which may earn it a Platinum LEED rating, which is interesting, since Bush famously battled climate change regulation while in office. All in all, Bush's library seems to be laying low...really low. He's hoping to blend invisibly into the landscape, and SMU's campus, and, well, we're guessing, history in general. Maybe to liven things up a bit, Stern could borrow a few of the concepts from this 2008 contest to design the Bush library.
Over in Little Rock, Arkansas, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center also earned a Platnium LEED rating for its green roof and energy efficiency, but for appropriately diametrically-opposed architecture. The bold, cantilevered ultracontemporary box also represents a huge departure from the traditional libraries of the past--much like Clinton's look-at-me governance. Designed by Polshek Partnership, it's flashy, confident--dare we say slick?--and a bit of a showoff against the traditional riverfront. Yep, just like Willie's built a new globe-trotting legacy for himself post-presidency, he's built a center of world-class architecture that's got both eyes firmly on the future...
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