Whatever one might say about the new George Bush Presidential Library's architectural design, where Robert Stern appears to be channelling a certain between-the-wars style of Italian architecture championed by Benito Mussolini, and whatever you might say about George W. Bush, you can't fault the green features or fail to applaud the fact that it has been certified LEED platinum.
This neo-classical pile has 100% solar hot water heating, 10% electricity supply from photovoltaics and a green roof. The imposing limestone entrance is made from Permian sea coral mined near Midland, Texas, which the Dallas news says was Bush's hometown. Michael Van Valkenburg restored the grounds to native prairie, with 90 kinds of native grasses and plants, using captured rainwater for half of its irrigation needs.
As the president of the George Bush Foundation says in Sustainable Business, totally straight-faced,
The Bush Center and our ongoing work are a reflection of the principles that guided President and Mrs. Bush in their public service, including their longstanding commitment to conservation and caring for the land.
I cannot discuss the architecture of Robert Stern dispassionately, any more than I can discuss the politics of George Bush dispassionately. Read what better critics have to say; here's Mark Lamster:
... it seems decidedly undecided about its place in the world, trading in the language of architectures past while claiming, without much conviction, the mantle of the present. Everywhere competent, it nowhere rises to a level of inspiration.
Whatever you make of Stern's architectural sensibility, give him this much: His design for the Bush library is an unapologetically direct portrait of a controversial president and his political personality. You might find it overly nostalgic for a simpler political and cultural past — or a bit too credulous of the idea that a decisive president is a serious-minded president.
But the architectural bottom line is plain to see. You don't have to squint, or read between the lines, to make it out.
Certification: Platinum (highest attainable)
Restored habitat by planting more than 70 percent of site (17.6 acres)
Reduce “heat island” effect using materials with Solar Reflective Index of at least 29
Construction and Materials:
20 percent recycled materials, majority of construction waste diverted from landfills
Low-VOC-emitting products and finishes to maintain high indoor air quality
Regionally sourced materials:
o Texas Cordova cream limestone walls, trim and coping – 150 miles
o Permian sea coral limestone water table from near the Bushes hometown of Midland, Texas, – 150
o Lueders paving – 150 miles
o Burlington blend brick – under 500 miles
o Texas mesquite hard wood floors – 200 miles o Stained pecan interior paneling – 200 miles o Trees from Central Texas – 100 miles
Facility water use reduced by up to 40 percent
Water efficient landscaping:
o 252,000-gallon irrigation cistern for pre-treating rain water before storage o Storage of rain water to meet 50 percent of site irrigation demands
o Native plants, which require less water than non-native species
Green roof systems: 1,550 square feet in three areas, reducing cooling and heating demands
Solar hot water system: 2,500 square feet of panels with 1,800 gallons storage capacity, supplies 100 percent of the Bush Center’s domestic hot water
Solar photovoltaic system: 19,000 square feet of panels, capable of generating 164 kilowatts or 9.5 percent of the Bush Center’s energy demand
High-performance, low-iron insulated glazing units to reduce heating and cooling loads
High-efficiency HVAC systems to reduce energy demand
Deep exterior overhangs to shade Bush Center building
Near Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail and bus service
Parking designated for low-emission, fuel-efficient and carpool vehicles