Coming 2020

American Museum of Natural History files plans for Gilder Center expansion

Architecture East
American Museum of Natural History files plans for Gilder Center expansion. (Courtesy Studio Gang)
American Museum of Natural History files plans for Gilder Center expansion. (Courtesy Studio Gang)

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) filed plans for its $340 million expansion with the Department of Buildings (DOB) yesterday, an indication that the project is moving forward, according to Real Estate Weekly.

Designed by Chicago-based Studio Gang and officially named the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, the project was unanimously approved last year by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The 245,000-square-foot, six-story expansion will be erected on the western side of the museum.

The proposed building is noticeably different from the AMNH’s current architectural language of Victorian Gothic, Beaux Arts, and Richardson Romanesque, but the Gilder Center will act as connective tissue for existing exhibition spaces. (The museum’s Ennead-designed Rose Center for Earth and Space, while modern, is also styled very differently.) In January, Studio Gang’s founding principal, Jeanne Gang, revealed the latest interior designs, which are inspired by ice glaciers and canyons to create an organic theme.

The museum plans to expand its research, educational, and exhibition capacity by building a Butterfly Vivarium, an Invisible Worlds Theater, an insectarium, and new classrooms. The designs also include 30 new circulation connections meant to solve current wayfinding issues at the museum.

While the proposal cleared the LPC and garnered support from other officials and organizations, residents and preservation and park advocates had some reservations due to the building’s encroaching footprint on Theodore Roosevelt Park. But the designers adjusted their plans, and now the building will only take up less than two percent of the 10-acre park.

The Gilder Center is slated to open in 2020, if construction starts imminently.

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