The Perot Museum: Strength, Performance, and Passion in Texas

The Perot Museum in Dallas, Texas is a landmark building designed by award winning architect and previous Holcim Awards juror Thom Mayne. Holcim’s successful involvement is testament both to the strength of the Group in being able to provide a range of services and the exceptional performance of its products.

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened to the public at the end of 2012 and is a striking addition to Dallas. Spanning 180,000 square feet, a key feature of the design is a 54 foot continuous-flow escalator encased in a glass tube traveling the length of the building’s textured precast concrete paneled façade.

Holcim US and Lattimore Materials were involved in the project from start to finish, bringing very different sets of expertise to this unique building. Lattimore Materials provided the know-how necessary for the internal concrete components and hardscape, while Holcim US initially consulted on technical issues regarding cement quality and uniformity before supplying the Portland cement for the museum’s distinctive exterior.

Perot museum panel detail

Concrete visions of sustainability
Sustainability was a key component of architect Thom Mayne’s design, and the Perot Museum is conceived as a ‘living’ example of engineering, sustainability, and technology at work. The concrete panels which encircle the building are designed to mimic the striations which occur naturally in geological rock formations and, in addition to creating this striking visual effect, also provide a further insulating layer, thereby enhancing the museum’s overall energy performance.

The building sources local and recycled building materials, and involves the installation of a sustainable podium roof and solar powered hot water heating. All non-potable water needs are to be met by a rainwater collection system which captures run-off from both the parking lot and the roof and channels it into two 25,000 gallon cisterns.

The museum is designed as a cube floating over a landscaped plinth. This plinth represents an ecosystem, and is comprised of rock and drought resistant grasses native to Texas which will grow and develop over time. The intention is for the building and outdoor areas to be used as educational tools in themselves, providing tangible examples of engineering, technology, and conservation. The Perot Museum is registered and working on three green-building accreditation programs - LEED, Green Globes, and the Sustainable Sites Initiative - and the architect’s choice to use concrete cladding demonstrates that cement is highly compatible with this vision of sustainability.

To achieve his goal aesthetically, Mayne was looking for consistent panel coloration with interesting nuanced variations. This was a requirement the Holcim US Midlothian plant was able to meet due to its technically advanced cement lines, uniform material characteristics, smooth operation, and excellent management team. During negotiations the customer’s production team was given a tour of the Midlothian plant. Impressed by the standard and efficiency of operations, they sealed the deal.

Customer excellence delivered by Holcim values
To create the precast panels, Holcim US delivered 2,200 metric tonnes of Type I-II cement. These panels are unique in that they are composed entirely of gray cement, while most architectural precast panels are pigmented on the exterior portion and sandwiched against the grey cement which typically comprises the interior. The Holcim team worked closely with the customer, Gate Precast, to ensure all project requirements were met.

An important attribute of the mix for the panels was that its weight be minimized without compromising durability and sustainability. Therefore all the precast elements contained no additional components with the exception of a lightweight coarse aggregate in the form of expanded shale, the purpose of which was to reduce the calculated unit weight by about 20 percent as compared to ordinary Portland cement concrete.

Lattimore Materials provided the 23,000+ cubic yards of concrete required for this project. Chosen for its expertise and access to other cementitious materials, Lattimore’s use of up to 51 percent fly ash in the mix for the piers, columns, and slabs was also a big factor in its selection for the museum. For the lighter interior walls, Lattimore brought in slag from Louisiana and through careful sampling and mock-ups the desired light gray color was achieved. Lattimore also had a logistical advantage with ready mix concrete facilities located in downtown Dallas.

Concrete placements commenced in the third quarter of 2010 with the laying of the museum’s piers and foundations. The final panels were shipped in January 2012. According to Conrad Filo, Quality Control Manager for Gate Precast, “Holcim supplied a very uniform product which eased concerns on variability with both color and material set times regardless of casting temperatures.”

Given its prominence, the Perot Museum has generated a great deal of interest amongst journalists, developers, and architects, and was hailed by the Dallas Morning News as the "boldest piece of modern architecture to hit Dallas." Thanks to the strength of the Group in being able to provide a range of services, and the exceptional performance of its products, Holcim and Lattimore Materials have played a key role in the realization of a unique architectural vision.


Perot museum advert
Customer centricity remains paramount
This project is a great example of the strengthening of customer focus at Holcim US and Lattimore Materials/Aggregate Industries US. Holcim US and Aggregate Industries US are also creating additional value through the development of mobile apps, material assessment software (calQ) for optimizing LEED credits for concrete, lead generation tools to help their customers prosper, and technical service engineers and LEED Accredited Professionals to assist customers at every turn.

Putting customers first is paramount across all of Holcim’s operations, and through successful brand management efforts such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS), the US is placing the customer at the forefront of its business at every level of the organization.