Museum of Natural History Expansion Plan Approved

Written By Kerby Marcelin | October 18, 2016 | Published in Urban Design, NYC Lifestyle, Neighborhood News

The American Museum of Natural History’s proposal to execute a $325 million expansion was unanimously greenlighted by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, Tuesday, the 11th. 

The commissioners’ collaborative decision was reached after a thorough presentation by Chicago-based firm, Studio Gang and other leading architects, laying out their masterplan to add the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation to the museum’s western surface and alter the adjoining Theodore Roosevelt Park.

The new six-story structure will be a major shift from the 142-year-old institution’s blend of Victorian Gothic and Beaux Arts models of architecture. Instead, it will boast a flair of contemporary and curvilinear designs based on geological depositions— glacial grottoes, curving layers, and arched canyons.

The 195,000 sqft addition calls for the demolition of three portions of the historic site: the Weston Pavilion, which has served as an entrance on Columbus Avenue at 79th street, Building 15, the museum’s original power plant, and the 50-year-old Building, 15A. The new edifice is expected to ease pedestrian circulation in the Central Park West Historic District.

The plan for the expansion, since its emergence in 2014, has garnered mixed views among Upper West Side residents and community leaders. Many argued against its potential to negatively affect the area’s cherished green spaces — such as parkland takeover and tree removal. Some slated the project for impacting the architectural originality of the distinguished establishment.

Although the split concerning the construction of the new wing persisted, Community Board 7 stressed its significance last week by achieving a full board vote. The staunch involvement of community organizations propelled the project’s supervisors to reduce the proposed facility’s encroachment on the park — cutting parkland inclusion from half an acre to a quarter as well as less trees. Laboratories for advanced research, cutting-edge technology, and world-class collections will highlight the new center.


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