The new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation will invite visitors to experience the Museum not only as a place of public exhibitions but as an active scientific and educational institution.
The Gilder Center will include new exhibition and learning spaces with state-of-the-art technology and access to the Museum’s world-class collections. It will also expand access to a broader range of the Museum’s resources for students, teachers, and families, offering new learning opportunities and inviting all visitors to share in the excitement of discovery.
Science is at the core of the most pressing issues of the day—human health, climate change, and biodiversity conservation, among others—and there is an urgent need to enhance the public understanding of science and to provide effective educational experiences that support informed, thoughtful engagement with these topics.
There is an equally critical need to address key challenges in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. The Gilder Center will expand the reach and deepen the impact of the Museum’s work in science education, building on a strong foundation of successful programs such as Urban Advantage, the Master of Arts in Teaching Program, and the Science Research Mentoring Program that already serve teachers, students, and youth throughout New York City, New York State, and beyond.
Over the last several decades, the Museum’s annual attendance has grown from approximately three million to approximately five million. The Gilder Center will enhance the visitor experience by improving circulation and by making physical and programmatic connections among galleries, classrooms, collections, and library resources.
The Gilder Center is designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects. Ralph Appelbaum of Ralph Appelbaum Associates is designing the exhibition experiences, and the landscape architecture firm is Reed Hilderbrand.
Approximately 80 percent of the 245,000-gross-square-foot project will be located within the area currently occupied by the Museum. Three existing Museum buildings will be removed to minimize the Gilder Center footprint in Theodore Roosevelt Park to about 11,600 square feet (approximately a quarter acre).
The Gilder Center will be a five-story, approximately 203,000-gross-square-foot addition to the Museum. The proposed project would also include approximately 42,000 gross square feet of renovations to existing space and alterations to an approximately 75,000-square-foot adjacent area of Theodore Roosevelt Park.
The Museum is working with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to minimize the impact on the park. The Museum has studied more than 60 trees on the west side of Theodore Roosevelt Park. The initial design could have resulted in the loss of up to nine trees. In June 2016, the Museum revised the original concept design proposal, to be submitted to DPR, for the area of the park in front of the Gilder Center, the below-grade service area, and the service driveway with the goal of preserving two notable trees, a Pin oak and an English elm. The revised proposal, developed with the Park Working Group formed to advise on the park's design, reduces the number of trees removed due from the Park to seven and expands areas for play and respite to maintain the park's essential character and existing uses. Any trees that are removed and not transplanted would be replaced, consistent with DPR rules and regulations.
The Museum anticipates planting six new canopy trees and 13 new understory trees in the Park near the Gilder Center. In addition, the Museum proposes to install 15 new benches. These improvements will help to preserve the existing character of the park.
Process and Timeline
December 2014: the Museum’s Board of Trustees authorized the creation of a conceptual design.
November 4, 2015: the Board endorsed a conceptual design and authorized proceeding to schematic design, and the Museum held a public informational meeting. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is being prepared.
April 6, 2016: the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, as lead agency, conducted a City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) public scoping meeting at the Museum.
October 5, 2016: Manhattan's Community Board 7 (CB7) approved the architectural design for the Gilder Center and landscape design for the adjacent part of Theodore Roosevelt Park.
October 11, 2016: LPC evaluated the appropriateness of the project's architecture and design, and changes to the adjacent park and unanimously approved the application.
May 18, 2017: NYC Parks issued a draft EIS. A copy of the draft EIS can be found online at http://nyc.gov/parks/amnh-gilder.
June 15, 2017: NYC Parks held a public hearing on the draft EIS at the American Museum of Natural History. A final EIS, including a response to public comments on the draft EIS, is expected to be issued in fall 2017.
If approved, construction of the Gilder Center will begin in 2017 after completion of the design. The goal is to open the Gilder Center in 2020, at the conclusion of the Museum’s 150th anniversary in 2019.
The projected budget for the Gilder Center project is $340 million. The new building is named for Museum Trustee Richard Gilder in recognition of his lifetime giving to the Museum, which includes a new lead gift for the building.
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