$431M Museum Expansion Utilizes Shotcrete
Crews are reportedly making headway at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York’s Manhattan Upper West Side, which has been undergoing a $431 million expansion since 2019.
Chicago-based Studio Gang was tapped several years ago to design the 230,000-square-foot facility, which has since been described by reports as a “scientific temple dedicated to research, education and deepening the public’s connection to science.”
According to reports, architect Jeanne Gang developed the designs while New York–based Davis Brody Bond was brought on to serve as the project’s executive architect. During the design process, Gang and her team utilized high-tech and analog methods to play with the structure’s form, but also looked into erosion, tectonics and other geologic processes.
AMNH Research Center
Being constructed next to the nearly 150-year-old original Victorian Gothic building of the AMNH, the multi-story Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation will be comprised of a library, a theater with 23-foot-high walls, a 3,000-square-foot butterfly vivarium, a 5,000-square-foot insectarium and additional spaces for exhibitions and education.
The space is also slated to have clear skybridges for the crossing of leafcutter ants and a fungal garden.
The center is named after philanthropist Richard Gilder, a fifth-generation New Yorker who co-founded the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Central Park Community Fund. Over the course of his lifetime, Gilder gave $140 million to AMNH, which included the initial donation for the new building.
.@AMNH's new expansion will be a 230,000-square-foot temple dedicated to research, education and deepening the public’s connection to science, featuring a 3,000-square-foot butterfly vivarium and an immersive theater akin to Star Trek's holodeck.https://t.co/G72UJxtIa9— Gothamist (@Gothamist) March 29, 2022
When the project broke ground in June 2019, AMNH President Ellen V. Futter told reporters that there was “an urgency to the public having a much deeper understanding of science and scientific issues that are really driving our times.”
“In addition to being a brilliant woman and fantastic architect, Jeanne brings an exceptional sensitivity to both the built world and natural world,” Futter added.
In renderings of the expansion, viewers are met with cavernous, fluid spaces that offer large openings and views into various exhibition spaces. The amoeba-like, light-filled and airy central hall was reportedly designed to emphasize the connectedness of scientific disciplines and inspire curiosity.
“You can look up and say, ‘I want to go see that next.’ It encourages you to make a discovery,” said Gang.
The new space is also noted to allow for circular movement through the building, thus preventing long hallways and dead ends like in older sections of the facility.
To construct the massive expansion and prevent encroachment into the adjacent Theodore Roosevelt Park, three existing structures were demolished. The curved space was then created with shaped reinforcing bars. More recently, the bars have been sprayed with shotcrete as opposed to using traditional pourable concrete.
According to reports, the use of shotcrete has eliminated the need for large quantities of wood to create the formwork and associated waste. The shotcrete has also been used by taxidermists to create scenes in the museum's dioramas.
The exterior is slated to be covered in Milford pink granite to match the building’s facade on Central Park West. The building’s high-performance envelope with its stone-cladding will help keep it naturally cool in the summer. The structure will also be powered by steam and electricitiy.
The Gilder Center is the 23rd building in the museum complex which occupies four city blocks. Once completed, the center’s insectarium will host 30 orders of live insects and will reportedly be home to the largest display of leafcutter ants in the world.
Currently, the City of New York has allocated funding of over $90 million to the AMNH, and another $17 million came from the state for the new center.