Details of AMNH Expansion Unveiled

John Hill
12. January 2017
Architectural White Model (Image ©AMNH/D. Finnin)

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York has unveiled plans for exhibits and programs in the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation designed by Studio Gang Architects.

Studio Gang principal Jeanne Gang was on hand at a press conference held at the museum yesterday to present updated designs for the 235,000-square-foot Gilder Center. Also on hand were Ralph Appelbaum, whose firm is handling the exhibit design, and members of the museum, including astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. 

Architectural White Model (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

The $340 million project was announced in November 2015; in October 2016 it received an important landmark approval. The Gilder Center will be tucked between existing museum buildings on the west side of the museum, overlooking Theodore Roosevelt Park. The undulating exterior facades and glass atrium will face West 79th Street and provide a vantage point for the twice-yearly "Manhattanenge."

Entrance to the Proposed Gilder Center: A rendering of the entrance to the proposed Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation from Theodore Roosevelt Park. (Image courtesy of Studio Gang Architects)

Gang described the design as inspired by natural features, such as canyons; at one point she presented an image of a study model made from a block of ice, its sides smoothed by pouring hot water over it. The main hall is a ful-height atrium with fluid, sprayed-concrete walls and bridges that will link the new building to ten of the museum's existing buildings, parts of which will be renovated during construction. A glass skylight atop the hall will vent warm air to reduce the need for air conditioning. Other sustainable strategies include a green roof, a high-performance building envelope, and bird-safe glass.

Collections Core: The five-story high, 21,000-square-foot, glass-walled Collections Core will be both a critical resource and a spectacular feature of the Gilder Center, revealing the specimens and artifacts that scientists use to investigate and answer fundamental questions, identify new species, and formulate new research questions and directions. (Image courtesy of Ralph Appelbaum Associates)

Highlights of the new exhibit spaces include the Collections Core, which Gang said responds to the existing archive spaces but puts them on display through the addition of glass walls. A new Insectarium will be the first museum gallery devoted to insects in more than fifty years. The new Butterfly Vivarium will provide a year-round exhibit where visitors can get up close with live butterflies.

Insectarium: A rendering of the Insectarium on the first floor of the Gilder Center, a place for family and general learning as well as for structured school visits by groups from every grade. The new facility will feature live insects, collections of insect specimens, scientific tools used for conducting research, exhibits, and digital displays. (Image courtesy of Ralph Appelbaum Associates)

The AMNH has raised $277 million of the $340 million budget and is on track to open in 2020, at the conclusion of the museum's 150th anniversary celebration.

Butterfly Vivarium: A rendering of the year-round Butterfly Vivarium on the second floor of the Gilder Center, which will feature a variety of opportunities to encounter live butterflies and observe their behaviors in various “environments,” including a meadow and a pond. (Image courtesy of Ralph Appelbaum Associates)

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