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Behold: the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in downtown Dallas, Texas — if you can even call this inchoate mash-up of low-rise crapola, parking lots, and freeway ramps a downtown. The building was designed by Eyesore of the Month All-time Champeen, Thom Mayne (countless humdingers over the years). This one is solidly in the tradition of museum-as-battle-fortification. Note the impregnable blank walls with gunport slits. At street level you get the alluring glimpse into the mysterious chamber of underground parking. The actual entrance up those pharaonic flights of stairs brings to mind the tombs in the Valley of the Kings — a ritual passage into the afterworld. And what the fuck is that tilted glass box atop the podium level? Do you find it odd, as I do, that this building appears to represent the antithesis of nature?  Note how lively the street is! Below is a shot that reveals the building’s actual surroundings.

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

20 Responses to “July 2020”

  1. staninco July 5, 2020 at 1:10 pm #

    Excrement from a dog with square intestines?

    • sitka1721 July 23, 2020 at 11:44 am #

      If Trumpo the Klown “wins” another term of office this horrendous train wreck of a building could serve as his Ministry of Truth. I am appalled at the attempt by this current crop of hack architects who are trying to make a name for themselves in their “profession”. As a further note – you couldn’t pay me to live in Txas, especially Dallas.

      • Elizabeth July 1, 2021 at 12:59 pm #

        Texas is great, it’s just the big cities that are awful. A couple of weeks ago we were in Dallas and drove by this monstrosity. In person, it is truly awful. All I could say was, “Why did they need a zombie-proof building right here?”

        I have to mention, at least Texas is finally moving away from the curved roof that “evokes the Conestoga wagon” favored by pioneers. What? I’ve known plenty of pioneer families and not one single one ever mentioned arriving in a Conestoga wagon. Possibly a hauling wagon. Looking at you San Angelo Art Museum with your “Conestoga roof.”

        Sharon’s family proudly told the story of the Irish great-great grandfather who pushed a wheelbarrow all the way from Boston to the Texas panhandle. Carolyn’s step granddaddy and brother rode out on horseback to the Permian Basin. My great grandfather and his brother came on horseback to central Texas from Hannibal, MO.

  2. Cactus Girl July 5, 2020 at 3:20 pm #

    It’s a submarine! The glass thingy is the periscope, obviously knocked askew in a heated battle with Cthulu.

  3. tom clark July 5, 2020 at 6:16 pm #

    Didn’t know downtown Dallas was in a seismic zone. The glass thingy looks like it was toppled in an earthquake. Guess that’s the “science and nature” theme the whole mess is supposed to emote.

  4. Taz July 5, 2020 at 7:54 pm #

    Contents OK – if not worth the money. Very hard to get to, and one can’t ride the subway to it without subjecting yourself to Zululand journey perils. In non Covid years, it is always overrun with jogger daycares.

    Nicer children’s museum in Ft Worth, but sophisticated people from Dallas ignore the more family friendly Ft. Worth. No joggers.

  5. Horseradish Farmer July 5, 2020 at 8:43 pm #

    As my adult daughter noted, this looks like someone just learned to play “Minecraft.”

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  6. tucsonspur July 6, 2020 at 5:30 am #

    You must admit that Morphosis is undaunted in its daring. But its approach to the theme of hyper Modern here is the very negation of nature, except for a kind of geologic glimmer.

    The Carvana car dispenser is adapting to new use as an angled, glass enclosed escalator, supposedly taking one to a place of heightened understanding of nature and science.

    The past is again prologue. In the interior, there also seems to be a ‘Guggenheim twist’.

    Although the builders generously supplied exterior handholds and footholds for climbing purposes, the danger and unsightliness of practicing mountaineers, scrambling and crabbing to and fro, will probably not be tolerated.

    I guess the slits could be called ‘fortress’ fenestration, with the focus of light and view on the wonders of science inside, and protecting patrons from any real sighting of the external obscenity.

    It’s said that this structure is ‘like a giant billboard for the future’. The problem with this kind of vehement, futuristic, architectural expression is that it buttresses the already ugly, billboard filled present.

    Hopefully the future won’t be as stark and sterile as this structure, and we metamorphize into something more mysterious, magical, and humanly majestic.

  7. dowd July 6, 2020 at 6:26 am #

    Good one Jim. This is another modern building that looks like a fortification or prison inspiring fear. One imagines that only bad things happen there.

  8. liber8tor July 6, 2020 at 8:27 am #

    Only thing missing is the moon & star cutout on the door and a copy of the SEARS catalog.

  9. AKlein July 6, 2020 at 11:33 am #

    Perfect for our current times. The architect is just doing his part to encourage social distancing. Who knew he could be so prescient?

  10. bymitch July 6, 2020 at 10:27 pm #

    They say it just fell out of the sky, landing heavily on the ziggurat.
    While the container suffered some obvious impact damage, including dislodgement of the carry handle, its contents were undamaged.
    Nature and science triumphs over religion in one simple symbolic act.

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  11. dah plunge protection team July 7, 2020 at 2:54 pm #

    It looks like the people from Idiocracy built it. Can’t you just see the bungee cords and duck tape holding it up?

  12. shabbaranks July 8, 2020 at 4:42 pm #

    Thom Mayne’s static interpretation of the Sandcrawler, Perot-Texas style is worthy of a laugh. Who’s fooling who?


  13. spikedpsycho July 9, 2020 at 12:48 am #

    Before; opponents of Traditional and Classical architecture assert such buildings are too expensive to construct today. Thus it’s ironic that “scientific” Modernism the most costly and over-budget structures in living memory. The Marina Sands, Apple Inc’s spaceship headquarters, One World Trade Center. Where as classical buildings have had a propensity for coming in; in their aloted budget.

    By this point in their career, Calatrava, Gehry, Mayne, etc are at the end of their lives; they’re old or close to retiring NEVER the less; they’re still notorious for buildings that are extremely costly to build and maintain. And they fu** the taxpayer the most because a lot of the buildings they’ve designed at the peak of their careers are often public or heavily built at taxpayer expense like museums, libraries, government buildings, embassies.

    None of these buildings by conflict of their complicated and irrational geometry, computerized engineering and complicated and expensive materials is suitable for urban renewal. Their components are entirely incompatible with any structure in it’s surroundings. In the long run their destiny is the wrecking ball when the cost of maintenance and upkeep exceeds the financial value of what these structures can generate or what it costs of refurbish.

  14. Ishabaka July 10, 2020 at 6:05 pm #

    Well, it WILL make it difficult for our rioters to loot the artwork.

  15. ceeweed July 10, 2020 at 8:54 pm #

    I didn’t think anything could top the subdivision of shoddy mini gnome castles or some of the other beauties showcased here. I was wrong.This HAS to be the bottom,right? Nothing could be imagined or somehow approved that could be more hideous than this,right????? At the Grand Opening ceremony,some little kid will raise his hand to politely interrupt the First speaker and say “Mister? I think they made a mistake. I don’t think that Glass box thing is supposed to be there.”

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  16. holdfastspike July 13, 2020 at 3:27 pm #

    it does seem to have a duel purpose. the government forces might wish to retreat to this bunker. would not be surprised if there was a hidden armory . and it looks like the only people that will be welcomed into this building will be bus loads of public school children for indoctrination.

  17. LegendMeadow August 1, 2020 at 11:28 am #

    At first glance, I thought it was the new Munch-museum in Oslo, which is equally hideous.

  18. bailorjones December 22, 2020 at 1:53 am #

    This document will surely come in handy when I start to build my dream home. I am looking to build my windows based on the style found in this document. I will show this to my architect and make him to pattern all my windows just like the ones in the document. Is there a way that I can credit the author of this document? I want to give him a bit of a tip or a blockman go of his favorite game or have him play mobile legends pc. game to say thanks for his design. I think that is the prudent thing to do here.