“Aerial view of current American Museum of Natural History complex, showing proposed footprint expansion into Theodore Roosevelt Park and other currently unbuilt space (in red). Also shown is project’s impact on existing building fabric (in pink).” Via Landmark West!.
The official public process to determine whether the Museum of Natural History gets to build its new Gilder education center begins this coming week with a joint meeting of Community Board 7’s parks and preservation committees. The meeting will take place on Tuesday September 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Goddard Riverside, 593 C0lumbus Avenue (88th Street).
Ahead of the meeting, two groups with an interest in the proceedings have begun to weigh in.
The Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District has released a letter strongly in support of the new building.
“Until now, Columbus Avenue was the back side to the Museum, with no entrance to welcome visitors, residents, or local shoppers and diners. This proposed addition, which fulfills the Museum’s current needs for expansion, affords a once in a lifetime opportunity to truly integrate the Museum with Columbus Avenue and the Upper West Side, making the new Gilder Center more approachable and prominent within this City-owned park.”
But preservationist group Landmark West!, while praising early renderings of the design, has raised concerns about the encroachment of the museum into Theodore Roosevelt Park. The group has asserted that the museum does not have “unrestricted right to build in Theodore Roosevelt Park,” and wants the museum to explain exactly how much of the park it intends to eventually occupy.
“LW! and many in the broader community do not accept the assertion that the Museum has the unrestricted right to build in Theodore Roosevelt Park…Any plan that does not establish limits on future expansion into Theodore Roosevelt Park is fundamentally inappropriate….The Museum should create a long-range master plan that ensures the continued existence and quality of Theodore Roosevelt Park.”
The group sent a letter to the museum asking for more details but says it hasn’t received a reply. The museum didn’t get back to us about Landmark West’s assertions.
We wrote about the museum’s latest plans here.