The official groundbreaking ceremony for the National Medal of Honor Museum will take place on March 25. The museum will be built in Arlington and dedicated to the 3,500 recipients of the nation’s highest military award for valor in combat.
The museum is currently located in the hangar bay of a decommissioned aircraft carrier docked near Charlotte, South Carolina. In 2013, the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation began developing plans for a dedicated museum building, but in 2018 the original design, proposed by Safdie Architects, was rejected by the local planning commission because it exceeded the zoning height limit by 75 ft. This, combined with fundraising challenges, led to a leadership shake-up and the decision to relocate the museum to a more prominent location that would attract a larger tourist audience.
Arlington was ultimately chosen as the winner of the subsequent national search for a potential host city. The new museum will be constructed in the heart of the city’s entertainment district, between AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, and Six Flags Over Texas (see page 58). It will sit on the banks of Mark Holtz Lake, a small, man-made pond originally envisioned as the centerpiece of a mixed-use development that never came to be. The lake stands adjacent to the Ballpark in Arlington, the 1994 baseball stadium recently replaced by Globe Life Field (see the November/December 2020 issue of Texas Architect).
A new design by New York-based Rafael Viñoly Architects features a large steel-clad slab supported by five tapered concrete columns. This slab will contain 31,000 sf of exhibition space and shade a large open-air event space underneath. The exhibition and event spaces will be connected by two spiraling staircases that form a double helix.
Last year, Jerry Jones, the owner, president, and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, announced that he and his family would donate $20 million to the construction of the museum. The Jones family helped secure Arlington as the site of the project, and Jones’ daughter, Charlotte, now serves as the museum board chair.
The National Medal of Honor Museum is projected to cost $150 million and will open in 2024.