More than 3,000 guests filled a massive tent on the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on November 16, 2012, to celebrate groundbreaking for the building. Fifteen officials took up shovels to turn dirt, marking the official start of construction, with completion scheduled for spring 2013.
President Bush welcomed the crowd, saying "To those of you who are not privileged to live in Texas, welcome to the great state. And welcome to one of the finest universities in the whole United States, Southern Methodist." He said the groundbreaking “is an important milestone” and “the beginning of a journey. We take the first step toward the construction of this presidential center, which will be a dynamic hub of ideas and actions based upon timeless principles.”
Participating in the groundbreaking for the Bush President Center were David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States; Ray Hunt, co-chair of the Bush Foundation Finance Committee, SMU trustee and chairman of Hunt Oil Company; Caren Prothro – chair of the SMU Board of Trustees; Alan Lowe, director of the Bush Presidential Library and Museum; Robert Stern, architect for the Bush Presidential Center; R. Gerald Turner, president of SMU; Condoleezza Rice, chair of the Bush Institute Advisory Board and former U.S. Secretary of State; George W. Bush; Laura Bush; Dick Cheney, former U.S. Vice President and former SMU trustee; Mark Langdale, president of the George W. Bush Foundation; Don Evans, co-chair of the Bush Foundation Finance Committee and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce; Michael Van Valkenburgh, landscape architect for the Bush Presidential Center; the Rev. Mark Craig, SMU trustee and pastor of Highland Park United Methodist Church; and Jake Torres, SMU student body president.