Digging In

Studio Gang modifies plans for contentious American Museum of Natural History garden

City Terrain East Landscape Architecture News
(Courtesy Reed Hilderbrand)
(Courtesy Reed Hilderbrand)

Responding to community pressure, Chicago-based Studio Gang and Cambridge, Massachusetts-based landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand have changed the design of the controversial gardens surrounding their addition to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City.

This week the architects re-submitted plans for the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for approval. The $325 million expansion, designed to evoke glaciers and geologic formations, will augment the museum’s classroom and exhibition space.

(Courtesy Reed Hilderbrand)

(Courtesy Reed Hilderbrand)

The revised plans account for community concerns over the footprint of the six-story addition, particularly its encroachment onto Theodore Roosevelt Park, a public space in front of the AMNH at West 79th Street and Columbus Avenue. Instead of occupying a half-acre, as originally proposed, Studio Gang’s scheme was whittled down to a quarter-acre in size. Pathways were reconfigured so leisure-seeking visitors can avoid quick-walking museum-goers seeking the most direct path the museum’s entrances and exits. A service driveway was rerouted to save a stately English elm and pin oak; now only seven trees will be removed for the addition.

Although flora will be saved, the addition actually grew eight percent in its latest iteration, to about 235,000 square feet, the Wall Street Journal reports. The schematic design shows that some passageways were altered and walls taken down to accommodate the upsizing, increasing the budget but not the building’s footprint.

The AMNH is hosting an information session next week where members of the public can learn more about the proposed changes.

(Courtesy Studio Gang)

Winter view of the Gilder center from Columbus Avenue. (Courtesy Studio Gang)(Courtesy Studio Gang)

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