We uncovered a way to vastly improve visitor circulation and museum functionality
– Jeanne Gang
Construction of the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York is set to begin today, following delays caused by a lawsuit from a local community group.
The projected US$383m (€338m, £301m), 230,000sq ft (70,104sq m) project has been designed by Studio Gang Architects, with the intention of improving visitor circulation to better accommodate the museum's rising annual attendance, which is now around five million.
Studio Gang's design connects existing galleries within the museum and provides it with its first street-level entrance, while also minimising impact on the adjacent Theodore Roosevelt Park, which was a foremost concern for community members.
A central exhibition hall forms a continuous, flowing experience, with visitors moving beneath and across connecting bridges and along sculpted walls with openings that reveal the museum's many programs. Innovative tools will be provided for visitors to gain a deeper understanding of how science is conducted today.
Inside the Gilder Center will be a five-storey Collections Core, housing millions of specimens and artifacts from the museum's collection, together with an Insectarium, a Butterfly Vivarium that is double the space of the existing butterfly conservatory, and the Invisible Worlds Immersive Theater, showcasing cutting-edge scientific technologies.
Studio Gang founder Jeanne Gang commented: "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."
Originally set to open in 2020, an updated completion date has not yet been announced.