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Legoretta Museum Bolsters Texas Arts District

February 2, 2010

By Tim McKeough

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
Photo © Juergen Nogai/courtesy Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
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Although Dallas has nabbed the spotlight in recent months with high-profile additions to its arts district, the city’s close neighbor, Fort Worth, also is adding some architectural pizzazz to its urban core. 

On November 20, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History opened a new $80 million, 166,000-square-foot facility designed by Mexico City’s Legorreta + Legorreta with local firm Gideon Toal. The museum is located within the city’s cultural district, just west of downtown, and joins a number of other notable buildings by Tadao Ando, Louis Kahn, and Philip Johnson.

The new facility replaces the museum’s former 1954 building, which was demolished, and includes galleries, a children’s museum, classrooms, an IMAX theatre, and a planetarium. Clad in local red sandstone and brick, the building employs Legorreta + Legorreta’s signature use of basic geometric forms and bright colors. At the main entrance is the building’s most distinctive element—the Urban Lantern, a 76-foot-tall tower topped by a cube made of yellow fritted glass. At night, it glows various colors via an array of LEDs and compact-fluorescent lamps. 

Inside, the museum is organized “like a village,” says firm partner Victor Legorreta, with a central indoor “street” connecting the various programmatic elements and linking to outdoor courtyards with walls painted vivid shades of purple, pink, and yellow. “Some art museums are more contemplative, but this one is for families and kids,” says Legorreta. “It’s a happy building.”

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