American Museum of Natural History finally breaks ground on long-planned expansion

A rendering of the entrance to the Gilder Center from Theodore Roosevelt Park.

The museum’s 230,000-square-foot Gilder Center is expected to
be completed by 2021

Following a years-long battle, including a lawsuit from a local
group, the American Museum of Natural History finally broke ground
on its new educational center.

Elected officials, including Mayor (and presidential candidate)
Bill de Blasio, community members, and leaders of the museum
celebrated the groundbreaking of its $383 million Richard Gilder
Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at a Wednesday
morning event.

The 230,000-square-foot structure, designed by Studio Gang, will
include several new exhibition galleries; a “Collections Core”
with four million specimens that visitors can peek into; an
insectarium (the first museum gallery in 50 years to be dedicated
to insects, according to a statement); and a “Butterfly
Vivarium” living butterfly exhibit. Additionally, Theodore
Roosevelt Park will get a new landscape design by Reed Hilderbrand,
which will enlarge the entrance to the park from Columbus Avenue,
and add seating areas and more trees.

Neoscape and Studio Gang, 2019. “The design will invite visitors
to explore the wonders of the museum with its openness and smooth,
flowing geometry,” Studio Gang’s Jeanne Gang said in a

MIR and Studio Gang, 2019.

In his remarks, de Blasio referred to the challenges that the
project faced. “Not everybody understood immediately why it was
so important to foster STEM education, why it was so important to
create this center,” he said. “But perseverance is a virtue and
we’re all here today because we believed together that this was
important for our future.”

“How wonderful is it to be together on what can now officially
be called a construction site,” Ellen V. Futter, the museum’s
president said. “I hope you have an enormous sense of pride and
purpose as we officially begin construction for what quite simply
will be a spectacular and vitally important resource for science
and education.”

The museum’s plans for the Gilder Center, first revealed in
2015, sparked opposition from community members stemming from its
potential impact on the environment, including the loss of seven
trees and space in Theodore Roosevelt Park. A group called the
Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park
filed a lawsuit in 2018
, which resulted in a temporary
restraining order on the project. That was lifted in February,

allowing the project to move forward.

The Community United group argued that the museum should be
required to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure
(ULURP) to receive permits for the project and said that the Parks
Department misinterpreted the law when it approved the plans to
build the center. Most recently, in April,
the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division dismissed the
group’s appeal to dismiss the court
ruling, capping the legal
battle on the museum’s expansion, which is now expected to be
completed by 2021.

Source: FS – NYC Real Estate
American Museum of Natural History finally breaks ground on long-planned expansion