New images have been released by Studio Gang showcasing the construction progress of the firm's American Museum of Natural History Expansion in New York. Dubbed as the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, the project will link together 10 museum buildings, improving circulation and creating one monumental campus of exhibition galleries, state-of-the-art classrooms, an immersive digital theater, and a redesigned library.
The architecture is inspired by natural Earth processes, specifically the geological canyons and glacial forms, which were translated into an undulating, cavernous structure made of reinforced concrete. Upon entering the Gilder Center, visitors find themselves in front of a continuous, canyon-like space with bridges and openings that offer visual connections to the project's many facilities. This space, along with the rest of the interior spaces, is formed by spraying structural concrete directly onto rebar without formwork to create fluid-like elements. This application, known as “shotcrete,” was invented by Museum naturalist and taxidermy artist Carl Akeley.
The front façade will be clad in Milford pink granite, the same stone used for the Museum’s entrance on Central Park West, further linking the two sides of the Museum’s campus. Whereas the east-facing elevation is formed by the connecting Museum buildings, and features a central window that provides additional light to the Kenneth C. Griffin Exploration Atrium.
In terms of facilities, the center will include: the Kenneth C. Griffin Exploration Atrium, a four-storey-high civic space that flows through the Museum to create a connection from Central Park West to Columbus Avenue, and opening onto Theodore Roosevelt Park, the Gottesman Research Library and Learning Center, a dynamic hub that connects visitors with the Museum Library’s resources and helps them navigate through printed and digital information, the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Collections Core, three stories of research and collections spaces that look into the Museum’s collections of scientific specimens, the Susan and Peter J. Solomon Family Insectarium, the first Museum gallery in more than 50 years dedicated to the most diverse group of animals, a year-round Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium, a permanent exhibit where visitors can walk around with free-flying butterflies, a 360-degree Invisible Worlds Theater, an innovative melding of science and art that offers an immersion into the networks of life at all scales, and a new state-of-the-art education classrooms within the Josh and Judy Weston Middle School Learning Zone, the High School Learning Zone, and the College and Career Readiness Zone, with adjacent renovated spaces in the existing Museum complex.
We uncovered a way to vastly improve visitor circulation and museum functionality, while tapping into the desire for exploration and discovery that is so emblematic of science and also such a big part of being human. Upon entering the space, natural daylight from above and sight lines to various activities inside invite movement through the Central Exhibition Hall on a journey toward deeper understanding. The architectural design grew out of the museum’s mission. -- Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang Founder
The project was first proposed seven years ago, and broke ground in June of 2019. The team is targeting LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification with a high-performance building envelope, stone cladding, deep-set windows and tree-shading, and water-efficient landscaping.