Posts tagged with "American Museum of Natural History":

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Jeanne Gang unveils new interiors for the American Museum of Natural History

This morning, architect Jeanne Gang of Chicago-based Studio Gang and exhibition designer Ralph Appelbaum unveiled their latest designs for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. Focusing on the museum's interior spaces, Gang and Appelbaum shared plans for the new Insectarium, Butterfly Vivarium, Invisible World's Immersive Theater, and newly revealed Collection Core. The 21,000-square-foot glass-walled Collection Core will form the heart of the center, housing 3.9 million specimens, or approximately 10 percent of the museum's specimen collection. It will feature observation areas so visitors can see scientists at work, storage spaces, rare collections, and other items previously not on view. "We started with what's already there," said Gang. "The Collection Core is located right there in the building, but no one can see it. By extending it and working with Ralph [Appelbaum] we could make it something people can experience and show more of the museum's content." In the Insectarium, the first museum gallery dedicated to insects in more than 50 years, and the new permanent Butterfly Vivarium, a combination of live species and interactive, high-tech exhibits will help educate the 5 million people who come through the museum each year. In addition to the new education facilities, which will include learning labs, classrooms, and age-specific zones, the 9.520-square-foot Invisible Worlds theater will recreate authentic science visualizations to illustrate organisms and processes that are too small, too fast, or too distant for humans to perceive in real life. Slated to open in 2020, the 235,000-square-foot center has generated a buzz with its organic, futuristic design, inspired by glaciers and canyons. To achieve this unusual design, Gang and her team created a model out of a block of ice. "It was a freezing winter and the software tool was too slow so we got this block of ice and poured hot water from a tea kettle into the block and that helped inspire the form," Gang said. "We've also been working with a lot of scientists and this became a way we could easily digitize and represent the design." Gang cites "flow" as a guiding principle for the overall renovation and addition. The Gilder Center will contribute to better wayfinding throughout the museum, which is notoriously difficult to navigate. Thirty new connections across the 10 existing buildings will enhance visitor experience and allow for the curators to offer better storytelling. "It's very much an "innie" building," Gang told AN. "It draws people into the exhibits, into the other buildings, and into the park itself." Additionally, the project is on track to receive LEED Gold with natural lighting and heat and water saving strategies. "The verticality of the space is the key sustainability feature because it's providing natural light deep into the museum and we can also use the verticality to create displacement ventilation so that the natural stack effect can occur," Gang said. Technology and flexibility were integral to the design with interactive media displays, micro cameras, and more. "Nothing here will be frozen in time," explained museum president Ellen V. Futter. "The design has the ability to constantly evolve in accordance with how we as people change the way we learn and encounter new information."

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Studio Gang’s AMNH expansion gets the green light from Landmarks Preservation Commission

Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved plans for a major expansion to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York. In almost 90 pages of presentation materials, representatives from Studio Gang, preservation consultants Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, and landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand demonstrated to the commission and the public how they would demolish three museum buildings constructed between 1874 and 1935 to make way for the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. In a radical but elegant departure from AMNH's mélange of Victorian gothic, Beaux Arts, Richardson Romanesque, and contemporary buildings, the 195,000-square-foot Gilder Center, inside and out, takes formal cues from geological strata, glacier-gouged caves, curving canyons, and blocks of glacial ice. "Sleekness was never a goal—we wanted a richness of texture," explained Studio Gang design principal Wes Walker, in a pre-meeting model walkthrough with The Architect's Newspaper (AN). The pink Milford granite the designers intend to use for the facade is the same stone used for Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, the museum's main entrance on Central Park West. The Gilder Center granite will be sliced into two- and three-inch-thick bricks and arranged in diagonal bands on the facade to create the attractive variation that's produced by ornament on the neighboring 19th-century buildings. Bill Higgins (of Higgins Quasebarth) and Jeanne Gang detailed how the unconventional form will fit in with—and enhance—those buildings: The original, aggressively rectilinear master plan calls for architectural focal points on each of the museum's main facades. The angular forms are complemented by a playful, curvilinear landscape—plans show undulating paths that flank the imposing buildings. The rectangle/curve relationship remains at the Teddy Roosevelt entrance, and the Gilder Center, directly across the complex, extends and amplifies historic precedent—"[it's] an insertion into the historic fabric," said Gang. For AMNH, the new building is both an addition and connective tissue that bridges disparate programs. Museum president Ellen Futter explained that her institution needs to expand to accommodate five million annual visitors: Though its classroom and exhibition space will augment the museum's offerings, the Gilder Center is also a switchboard, connecting ten buildings at 30 different points. Inside and out, transparency and accessibility define the design. Vertical glazing on the facade lets visitors see deep into the structure, like looking into a fjord. Where the museums of past centuries defined their monumentality with great granite steps, the Gilder Center's no-step entrance allows for seamless access for people with mobility impairments or strollers. The addition will also open up sightlines to Building One, AMNH's first structure, via a passageway and additional gallery space. Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer, councilperson Helen Rosenthal's office, AIA New York, the Van Alen Institute, and the Columbus Avenue BID spoke in support of the addition, but preservation and neighborhood parks groups were not as bullish on the project. The Historic Districts Council (HDC), while offering that the Gilder Center "defers sensitively" to existing buildings, questioned the facade detailing and expressed concern about the building's exposed interior. The structural concrete columns that define the main space, HDC claims, are not clad in the same quality material as the facade. The group suggested Studio Gang refine the design further. Residents and members of park preservation groups spoke out against the Gilder Center because it encroaches on Theodore Roosevelt Park, and its construction requires the removal of seven mature trees. In response, Reed Hildebrand divided the layout into slow and fast programs—slow, or passive recreational activity will be directed away from the Gilder Center entrance, a meandering paved walkway shaded by (new) trees and curving flower beds. 80 percent of the addition will occupy the museum's existing footprint, and less than two percent of the 10-acre park will be sacrificed to AMNH. Noting the designers' willingness to adjust their designs in response to community concerns, the commissioners offered additional suggestions. Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said that the cultural aspect of the museum was often absent from the conversation around the design, while other members suggested that the architects reconsider the stucco planned for a northern exterior wall. Commissioner Frederick Bland, an architect, noted that the essence of AMNH is its "excellent" architecture that has accrued on the site over time. He praised the design team's vision and level of detailing, adding that at this stage it can be dangerous to intrude on the details of another architects' design vocabulary. "Very seldom do you see a design this soaring and open," said commissioner Wellington Chen. "It's a stunning piece of architecture—the commission can be proud in approving the project," said Srinivasan. After hours of tension, a palpable wave of relief emanated from the assembled architects. After the LPC's vote, a smiling Jeanne Gang told AN that her team had to move the modeling and detailing much farther along than usual for this round of approvals. "We had to make the parametric model way ahead to figure out the coursing and interfaces with the masonry," she said. Next, the Gilder Center moves onto design development and through the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process towards an expected groundbreaking next year.
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Studio Gang modifies plans for contentious American Museum of Natural History garden

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. 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.
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Unveiled> Studio Gang’s new wing for the American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has unveiled the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, a six story, 218,000 square foot, $325 million expansion, at Columbus Avenue and 79th Street, designed by Jeanne Gang. The principal of New York– and Chicago-based Studio Gang stated that the exuberant organic forms recall “geological canyons, glacial forms," spaces shaped in increments by the forces of nature. Here, form follows function: the aim of the Gilder Center is to build scientific literacy in young people and encourage study in the STEM fields. In addition to creating learning spaces, the structure reconciles the museum's rambling circulation, creating 30 connections to ten AMNH buildings. Its mass dialogues with the existing buildings, maintaing the same height as its neighbors. Inside, cavities in the concrete walls create exhibition galleries, a library, insect hall, classrooms, theaters, and laboratories. The reinforced concrete walls in the Central Exhibition Hall comprise the building's load-bearing apparatus. Exhibition designs are by Ralph Appelbaum Associates (New York). The expansion will be complete by late 2019 or early 2020, although the design has yet to undergo the public approval process. Neighbors have raised concerns about the museum's encroachment onto adjacent Theodore Roosevelt Park. AMNH will present its plans to community groups and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. See the gallery below for additional images of the project.
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VernerJohnson Sets Museum Ablaze with Dichroic Glass

Faceted facade evokes regenerative prairie burns.

For most projects, admits VernerJohnson's Jonathan Kharfen, architects steer clear of evoking a potentially destructive force like fire. But Museum at Prairiefire, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) outpost in Overland Park, Kansas, proved an exception to the rule. Because Prairiefire houses AMNH's traveling exhibits, its content is constantly changing, and thus provided little guidance in terms of an overarching design concept. Kharfen instead looked to the location. "What is the area about?" he asked. "For me the first thing that came to mind were the prairie burns. Coming from Boston, I'd never seen anything like it." Using dynamic materials including dichroic glass and iridescent stainless steel, VernorJohnson crafted a faceted high performance envelope that embodies the color, movement, and regenerative power of fire. Not long after landing on the fire metaphor, said Kharfen, "I knew of a couple of materials that would be perfect, because for me it's all about movement and light." He began researching dichroic glass, a composite glass that changes colors depending on the angle of view. The museum's sustainability goals—the project is targeting LEED Silver—dictated that the material would double as an insulating unit, the first such application in the United States. But that presented an additional challenge, as products with the dichroic properties embedded in the glass itself would break the budget. To lower costs, the architects collaborated with fabricator Goldray Industries to design an assembly incorporating dichroic film from 3M. The solution turned out to be an aesthetic boon as well as a cost-cutter, as the film itself carries a flame-like pattern. "It's subtly dimply, it's animated, it's beautiful," said Kharfen.
  • Facade Manufacturer Goldray Industries (dichroic glass), Millennium Tiles (metal panels), Kawneer (curtain wall framing, window and door frames)
  • Architects VernerJohnson
  • Facade Installer JPI Glass (glazing), Loveall Custom Sheet Metal (metal panels), D&D Masonry (stone)
  • Facade Consultant Structural Engineering Associates (structural engineering)
  • Location Overland Park, KS
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System dichroic glass veneer curtain wall with custom framing, LIC stainless steel panels, masonry
  • Products Goldray Industries custom dichroic glass using 3M dichroic film, Millennium Tiles LIC stainless steel panels, Kawneer custom curtain wall framing and door and window frames, Kansas limestone, Northfield Block Company architectural cast stone
Kharfen's team paired the dichroic glass with a second shape-shifting material, Light Interference Coated (LIC) stainless steel, ultimately applying panels in a variety of color and finish combinations. "With the stainless steel, I wanted to create [the appearance of] flame bursts and sparks," explained Kharfen. "I didn't want to apply it in a random way." Instead, the architects arranged the panels in a gradient, with blue (near the bottom) giving way to burgundies and reds and finally to golden yellow. For Kharfen, it was not enough that the materials themselves convey a sense of life and movement. "I wanted them to be dynamic shapes, dynamic in plan as well as in elevation," he said. His solution—a faceted curtain wall—upped the project's technical ante. To avoid cluttering up the lobby space with columns, Kharfen worked with structural engineers Structural Engineering Associates to design a custom support system of stainless steel tubes fronted by angled mullions, to which the curtain wall is attached as a veneer. To accommodate the 14 unique angles involved in the faceting, curtain wall manufacturer Kawneer developed a new adjustable mullion, a hinged plate with a 180-degree range of movement. Given the museum's ever-changing content, the architects treated the exhibit spaces as "black boxes," said Kharfen. "For the solid areas I wanted to evoke the overlapping, curved forms of the hills." The client, Fred Merrill of Merrill Companies, loved the stonework at VernorJohnson's Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, Kansas, which suggests striated rock formations. "He asked, 'Can't we just do that here?'" recalled Kharfen. "I said, 'No, we're going to do something different.' I wanted a gradient." To cut costs and simplify installation, the architects whittled a more complex scheme down to a mix of two different stones in each band, with the bands varying in width. Again, the referent is fire: the walls begin with a charcoal-colored architectural cast stone before moving through Kansas limestone in shades of red, brown, gold, and off-white. Together, the stone-clad exhibit halls and the lobby curtain wall complete the picture of a prairie burn. "I wanted the fire elements to engulf and connect the solid volumes," said Kharfen. "I did them as lines of fire, because, historically, that's how these fires were set." But while the burn metaphor extends to every level of detail, including the flicker-flame-inspired sloping at the tops of the doors and windows, for the project architect the museum design ends where it began: with the primary materials. Speaking again of the dichroic glass, he concluded, "I cannot think of a material that looks more like fire than this glass."
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Preservationists watchful as New York’s American Museum of Natural History taps Jeanne Gang for addition

Last year, Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects opened a New York office, and now it is clear they made a smart decision in doing so: the firm has been selected to design a six story addition to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The current museum complex is an eclectic jumble of architecture styles, and it's most recent addition is the Rose Center for Earth and Space by the Polshek Partnership (now Ennead).   The project is likely to be controversial, as it will encroach on Theodore Roosevelt Park, a small neighborhood park immediately adjacent to Central Park. Preservationists and neighborhood advocates are watching the project closely. "Because the 'plans' announced by the American Museum of Natural History are long on laudatory sounding goals but short on details,  Landmark West! (LW) is in a wait and see mode regarding the expansion plan. Once the full details of the plans are known, LW will carefully review them and formulate a response. However, the AMNH's  publicly stated intention of encroaching on the surrounding park land is of serious concern to LW. We would prefer that the AMNH use the park land to further the study of natural history and redouble its commitment to conserve it," wrote Arlene Simon, the president of the board of Landmark West!, in an email to AN.