On November 16, 2010, George W. Bush broke ground on what is to become the George W. Bush Presidential Library. There are currently 12 presidential libraries overseen by the Office of Presidential Libraries which is part of NARA – National Archives and Records Administration. Once completed, the Bush library will make number 13.
The library is actually part of a larger structure called the George W. Bush Presidential Center which will also include the George W. Bush Policy Institute as well as the offices of the Bush Foundation. The estimated cost of the project is anywhere from $200-$500 million and is expected to be completed in July 2013.
Plans for the George W. Bush Center were conceived in 2005 while the former president was still in the Whitehouse. At that time, six colleges were encouraged to submit a bid even though two of the schools, Baylor University and Southern Methodist University, had already started preparing their bid for the library. The other schools contacted were the University of Texas System, Texas Tech, Midland College, and University of Dallas. All of the colleges had advantages in their location which made them a good spot to put the library. Eventually, though, Southern Methodist University was chosen as the final resting place for the center.
However, the selection process didn’t go smoothly. SMU did not have space for the facility when it submitted its proposal. To create space for it, the school began purchasing nearby residential and business properties. One of those properties was the University Gardens condos. A tenet in the condos sued the school over the way it acquired the property.
In addition to that, residents in the surrounding University Park area began to protest the erection of the library because they did not want hundreds of thousands of people flooding their area. Eventually, though, the lawsuit was resolved and the school got the approval they needed from the town council.
The George W. Bush Center will sit on about 225,000 square feet of land. When completed, it will be the second largest presidential library erected. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California currently holds the number one position. It is estimated that about 250,000 people will visit the center every year which will bring quite a bit of tourism money into the area. The design for the center was developed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. Stern is currently the dean of architecture at Yale University.