Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jess Paniszczyn
Driving through downtown Dallas it is hard to miss the giant, 14 story, grey cube that is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Situated on a 4.7 acre site, this unique piece of architecture houses 11 permanent exhibits and one traveling exhibit.
Entering the building is an experience in and of itself. As visitors experience an outdoor plaza and science park, they are greeted by 13 bright frog sculptures playing around a pond. Water continually flows into the pond through a river with dinosaur tracks evident in the river bed.
Once inside the exhibits themselves the only word that comes to mind is ‘wow.’ I really do mean, ‘Wow!’
In the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall, an Alamosaurus skeleton looms over everything including a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. In the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall, visitors can manipulated an amethyst geode weighing over 2,000 lbs. Visitors can bend light and zoom through space in the Expanding Universe Hall. Not to mention all the cool exhibits and activities offered in the Moody Family Children’s Museum. All this and there are still eight exhibit halls left to explore.
The use of art, light, design, architecture and technology throughout the museum could keep any aficionados of these disciplines busy for days.
The $185-million museum, designed by 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis Architects.
“The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a gift to the city of Dallas,” Mayne said. “It is a fundamentally public building – a building that opens up, belongs to and activates the city. It is a place of exchange. It contains knowledge, preserves information and transmits ideas; ultimately, the public is as integral to the museum as the museum is to the city.
“The topic of science is connected to the city. It is not an isolated thing. As you are moving through the museum, you are always a part of the city itself.
“This building is only connected to this particular institution at this time. It is not duplicate able. It is completely unique to this institution. When people leave, they have never seen another building like this, so they take it away as an image that belongs to Perot Museum of Nature and Science.”
Just walking through the lobby, visitors can gaze at a Malawisaurus dinosaur fossil and interactive "dancing water" molecules.
“Everything is cool. There is something for everyone whether you are 3 or 30, a Ph.D. or an armature there is something in this museum for you,” said Nicole Small, the Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer, Per Museum of Nature and Science. “To me the neatest thing is that every time someone walks through the door, they have their own ‘aha’ moment.
“We have everything from dinosaurs to DNA. You can take a journey through our solar system. If you are one of our youngest learners, you can climb up and down the downtown Dallas skyline.”
The museum fully embraces the natural and manmade worlds, focusing on earth and space sciences, life and natural sciences, chemistry, physical sciences and engineering.
“The museum is a very comprehensive museum,” Andy Anway, the founder of Amaze Design, said. “The intention is to have a whole lot of different kinds of experiences, and also to show all of the interconnectedness between all of the science disciplines.
“We are in the universe hall right now, which is the top level. It is kind of like the infinite. If you go to the lower levels down in life and earth, you start to see the microscopic. So we are really showing how these systems interconnect. We hope that visitors will see those connections. At the same time, there is an awe factor for each gallery.”
Paul Bernhard, an exhibit designer at Paul Bernhard Exhibit Design, helped design the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall, and Tom Hunt Energy Hall.
“The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is definitely the newest and most exciting science museum in the country,” Bernhard said. “It was really exciting for me to work on designing exhibits before there was even a building designed. They were able to tailor the exhibit design exactly to the building. Usually you start with an empty space and you have to redo it. This time, from the beginning, we had a blank slate to design exhibits.”
The halls feature state-of-the-art video and 3-D computer animation with life-like simulation. Tabletop landscapes and computer-generated flyovers provide eye-popping enhancement supported with timely, relevant and engaging educational lessons and programs.
David Quayle, Customer Executive with Dell Services.
“Dell donated about $6.5 million of technology to the museum,” said David Quayle, Customer Executive with Dell Services. “Above many of the exhibits is a Dell computer running the interactive touch screen. They are all networked together throughout the museum. All of the interactive touch screen stuff keeps kids interested and captures their attention.
“For me, it is interesting to see how technology highlights something like gems and minerals.”
Beginning December 1, the Perot Museum will operate year round Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. with the exception of Christmas Eve (close at 3 p.m.), Christmas (closed), New Year's Eve (close at 3 p.m.). The museum is located at the corner of N. Field Street and Woodall Rodgers Freeway in Victory Park, just north of downtown Dallas.
General admission to the exhibit halls for nonmembers will be $15 for adults (18-64), $12 for students (12-17) and seniors (65+), and $10 for children (2-11). Admission to the theater for non-members will be $8 for adults, students, seniors and children. Combo admission for non-members to the exhibit halls and theater will be $20 for adults (18-64), $17 for students (12-17) and seniors (65+), and $15 for children (2-11). For members, general exhibit hall admission will always be free, and admission to the theater will be $6 for member adults, students, seniors and children.
Some information provided by the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
Last Updated on Sunday, 18 November 2012 22:19
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
The City Council voted on Nov. 8 to grant a variance to a Kroger site near a school that would allow the grocery store to sell beer and wine.
The exception for the 515 S. MacArthur Blvd. Kroger store lifts a prohibition that bars selling alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a public or private school. The Kroger store’s property line stands within 240 feet of Haley Elementary School’s property line. The store, however, is actually about 700 feet from the nearest school building, according to city staff.
City council members voted 6-3 for the variance with Mayor Beth Van Duyne, Roy Santoscoy, Dennis Webb, Rose Cannaday, Brad LaMorgese and Gerald Farris for the exception. Council members Michael Gallaway, Thomas Spink and Joe Putnam voted against.
Under the agreement, new landscaping and improvements to the store are proposed along MacArthur Boulevard and Sixth Street. Updates will total about $1.4 million.
“This store is not as competitive as other stores in the city of Irving, and it’s not keeping pace with our other stores,” said Gary Huddleston, consumer affairs director for Kroger stores. “Many customers have told us they want the convenience of purchasing beer and wine. Our store can provide a safer outlet to purchase alcohol than others in the area.”
City Council members listened to more than an hour of public input, both for and against the variance. Among concerns were worries that other stores in the Heritage District, where the Kroger store is located, would also seek variances to put alcohol on their shelves and thus boost their sales.
But the chief worry was the store’s location near the school. School board members did not meet to discuss issuing a resolution to take a side on the issue. None attended the Nov. 8 meeting.
“This case is dependent on the safety of the kids,” Van Duyne said. “Neither tonight nor at the planning and zoning meeting or back in 2011 or 2009 have we seen parents of kids who go to that school come here to talk about this. I’m hearing from a lot of people but not one parent of a student who goes there.
“If this was a high school, I could see the concern of selling alcohol to minors, but this is an elementary school. I think if a 10-year-old walks in to buy a pack a beer, someone’s going to notice.”
But Gallaway said he couldn’t support the change.
“I have to look at whether approving this zoning case is going to be beneficial, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that it’s not going to be beneficial for the city,” he said.
Kroger will still have to apply for a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission license and construction on the new improvement could start after the holidays. The store will gain final approval for the license from the city after construction starts.
In October, the planning and zoning commission voted in favor of the variance, adding a stipulation that alcoholic beverages could only be displayed and stored inside the main store building.
In 2008, city staff denied Kroger’s application for a permit to sell wine and beer. Two years later, Kroger applied again for the permit, this time promising landscaping improvements. While staff recommended approval, City Council denied the application.
The third application was received on Aug. 8.
The City Council will discuss changing its policy on alcohol sales in restaurants at an upcoming Council meeting.
The current city ordinance sets a ratio of 60/40 for food/alcoholic beverage sales at restaurants, but the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and area businesses are asking that the ratio be reversed or changed.
Critics have said changing the ration to favor alcohol sales could impact how the community is viewed.
The Council will consider the change at a later date.
Last Updated on Sunday, 18 November 2012 22:18
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alvin Starks
American flags waved in the wind as people from across the DFW Metroplex joined together at Porter’s Army & Navy’s annual Unite for Troops event during Veterans Day weekend. There were many men and women in uniform: US troops, firemen, police officers and Boy Scouts but one uniform in particular brought big smiles to kids and adults of all ages.
Tommy Underwood, a veteran who was stationed in Germany for three years, was in attendance dressed in full uniform with a slight twist - oversized combat boots with navy blue laces, orange hair, white face paint, and a red nose completed his army clown ensemble.
“Sgt. Suckertash is one of my favorite alter-egos,” Underwood said. “Tomorrow I’ll dress as a hobo clown named Willie B. Last year I dressed as Sheer-luck Holmes. I call him Sheer-luck, because he solves all of his mysteries with sheer luck.” Underwood walked around the entire area doing his routine. His Uncle Sam impersonation generated a lot of laughs.
“After serving in the army for so many years and giving back to my country, it’s nice to put on a show for people and make them laugh,” Underwood said.
Terri Robertson, who has volunteered at the event for six years, labeled boxes and set up a table for attendees to write letters to deployed troops.
“I’m honored to help support our troops in any way I can. Gathering supplies and volunteering every year is the least that I can do,” Robertson said. The supplies donated will be sent to Camp Leatherneck Medical Facility in Afghanistan.
Besides donating items and writing letters, the event featured a number of activities, a bounce house, face painting, arts and crafts, and even a petting zoo.
Kirk Tiner, a member of the Dallas-Forth Worth Herpetological Society, had various snakes on display for people to view or even hold in their hands if they were brave enough.105.3 The Fan kept sports fans up to date with everything that transpired in the world of college football.
A Flag Retirement ceremony was conducted by the Boy Scouts. Shortly afterward, Heartbreak Beard - a band from Irving - took the stage and serenaded the crowd with tunes.
Last Updated on Sunday, 18 November 2012 22:38
Written by Phil Cerroni
Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today named four U.S. organizations as recipients of the 2012 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation's highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. The winners in this, the 25th anniversary year of the award, represent four different sectors, one repeat recipient and a health network recognized for the same honor earned previously by its flagship hospital.
The 2012 Baldrige Award recipients—listed with their category—are:
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, TX (manufacturing)
MESA Products Inc., Tulsa, OK (small business)
North Mississippi Health Services, Tupelo, MS. (health care)
City of Irving, Irving, TX (nonprofit)
"The four organizations recognized today with the 2012 Baldrige Award are leaders in the truest sense of the word and role models that others in the health care, nonprofit and business sectors worldwide will strive to emulate," said Acting Secretary Blank. "They have set the bar high for innovative practices, dynamic management, financial performance, outstanding employee and customer satisfaction, and, most of all, for their unwavering commitment to excellence and proven results."
“This is an historic day for the City of Irving." said Irving City Manager Tommy Gonzalez. "To have our city declared a national model of performance excellence after the national board of examiners conducted a comprehensive and rigorous management evaluation is a validation of the strategic operations plan we have implemented. Considering we are the first city in the State of Texas and only the second municipality to receive the award in the program's 25-year history underscores the value of Irving's deliberate approach in increasing customer satisfaction by double digits, streamlining our operations, and strong fiscal management leading to more than $40 million in savings and 50,000 staff hours saved.”
Irving is the largest city to ever receive the Baldrige Award, and is only the second municipal recipient in the program’s 25-year history.
“We are elated to have received this distinguished award,” said Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne. “I’ve always known Irving was a dynamic city. I’m proud to be part of an organization that values the feedback of its residents, businesses and employees, and uses this feedback to enhance the quality of life for our entire community.”
The 2012 Baldrige Award recipients were selected from a field of 39 applicants. All of the applicants were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results. The evaluation process for each of the recipients included about 1,000 hours of review and an on-site visit by a team of examiners to clarify questions and verify information in the applications.
For the first time in history, Baldrige Award applicants were required to have previously received a state-level award for performance excellence. The City of Irving received the Texas Award for Performance Excellence (T.A.P.E.) in 2011, which qualified the city for consideration of the 2012 Baldrige Award.
Representatives from the City of Irving will receive the Baldrige Award during a ceremony in Baltimore, MD in April 2013. The Baldrige Award is not given for specific products or services. Since 1988, 93 organizations have received the award.
Source: Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, City of Irving
Last Updated on Sunday, 18 November 2012 22:17
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
Days after the Presidential election, Irving community members set aside personal politics to honor the city’s veterans at the Irving Veterans Day program. The Nov. 9 ceremony at the Central Library boasted a room full of veterans and community leaders.
Irving’s military history spans decades, going as far back as World War I in 1914 when two Irving men were killed in the war. Irving residents served in World War II, the Korean War and an estimated 30 Irvingites were killed in the Vietnam War, according to the City of Irving. Even more have served in post-Vietnam battles.
“We do this today in honor of those who pledged to do what we can’t do for ourselves,” said Sharon Barbosa-Crain, of the Irving Veterans Memorial Park Committee. “We want to say thank you so much to those who gave their lives and those who served for us.”
The program included performances from the MacArthur High School Jazz Band, who kicked off the program with “The Star Spangled Banner.”
“So often we get lost in politics,” Mayor Beth Van Duyne said. “We might fight, but we have a fantastic country and a fantastic state. I love our city, and it’s because of the people in this room who served.”
In a divided time for the nation, John Danish, a former Irving council member, said veterans are a reminder of a country bigger than political sides and quarrels.
“When these veterans joined together in their fields of battle they weren’t saying ‘Are you Democrat or Republican?’” he said. “They were fighting for the United States of America.”
The program closed with the playing of “Taps” and the laying of a wreath at the Irving Veteran Memorial Park next to the library.
“We have to continue as a country and as individual to recognize and show our appreciation to those who are willing to fight for us, those who are willing to make the sacrifices necessary so the rest of us can enjoy this great nation,” City Councilman Joe Putnam told attendees.
Last Updated on Sunday, 18 November 2012 22:40