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DALLAS-Despite the current economic downturn, the $150-million Perot Museum of Nature & Science continues attracting necessary funds for development and remains on track for a late 2009 construction launch. Balfour Beatty Construction is the general contractor for the 160,000-square-foot development, which is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Museum CEO Nicole Small tells GlobeSt.com that fund-raising activities have continued strong. “The bad news is the economy,” she says. “And the good news is the economy. We’re fortunate we’re so far along in our campaign. The importance of math and science hasn’t changed. There’s been an enormous commitment to move this project forward.”

The museum will be situated on a 4.7-acre site at the northwest corner of Woodall Rodgers Freeway and Field Street, adjacent to Victory Park. Small says there is a possibility that the Dallas Area Rapid Transit will build a rail line straight to the new museum. Though the future rail is still in the planning stages, “DART would likely engage our site as an actual train spot, if it goes through,” Small comments.

The museum is an outgrowth of a 2006 merger between the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the Science Place and the Dallas Children’s Museum. With the merger, additional space was necessary, with Victory Park selected three years ago as a new location.

The structure is being designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis. Local architect Good, Fulton & Farrell is also involved with the development. Hillwood Development Company is serving as the development manager.

Though the museum’s staff and exhibits will relocate to Victory Park in 2013, Small says the institution’s current location in Fair Park will not be left vacant. Both the new location near downtown and the current one on the near east side are an important part of the organization’s overall institutional plan.

Small says the current Museum of Natural History building at 3535 Grand Ave. will be converted into a science institute containing collections that will hopefully entice researchers and scientists from around the world. There are also plans for the neighboring Science Place at 1318 S 2nd Ave., though Small declined to go into detail, citing issues that still need to be resolved with the city.

But she makes it clear that the move doesn’t mean abandonment of current space. “We’re staying in Fair Park,” she adds.

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