Legorreta + Legorreta Unveil Fort Worth Design

Although generations of children have been devoted to its giant dinosaur exhibit, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History has always seemed somewhat of an ugly duckling among the architectural swans including Louis I. Kahn’s Kimbell, Tadao Ando’s Modern, and Philip Johnson’s Amon Carter, all clustered together in Fort Worth’s Cultural District. But that’s about to change. The 1954-vintage structure will be demolished this fall to make way for a new building by Legorreta + Legorreta. The museum unveiled the final scheme in April.

Image courtesy Legoretta + Legorreta (top); Photo © Rick Blum (bottom)

“Our design tries to respond to the challenge of being with these great neighbors but still is very human and easy to use,” explains Victor Legorreta, co-owner with his father Ricardo of the Mexico City-based atelier, which the museum selected in 2006. “This is the center of the community for kids, and we want to express that in the architecture.”

At 133,000 square feet, the new building won’t be much larger than the current structure’s 100,000 square feet, but is intended to provide a more logical organization of space as well as updated exhibit areas. The design features a cluster of geometric forms including domes, pyramids, diamonds, and rectangles. Reflecting the architects’ signature use of texture and color, its walls are clad in brick, stone, and stucco. The color palette ranges from light taupe to a rich red that Ricardo Legorreta calls “cabernet rojo.” A translucent golden tower marks the entrance; skyward-pointing lights glow within it.

Design elements tie the new building to Fort Worth’s past by reinterpreting the Moderne style of the Will Rogers Memorial Complex, located across the street. The new tower, for instance, echoes the 1930s-era Pioneer Tower in streamlined form. The Legorretas also shifted their building’s footprint so that it will share an entrance courtyard with its immediate neighbor, the National Cowgirl Museum.

The existing Museum of Science and History will close this September, but its popular museum school will operate out of temporary facilities. Construction on the new $60 million building is scheduled to finish in time for the museum’s reopening in October 2009.