A conceptual design of a hall in the Richard Gilder Center.

The Museum of Natural History wowed the community board on Wednesday night with its plans to build a new five-story educational complex on its campus. The board approved the project 37 to 1 with 3 abstentions, certifying a vote by 2 board subcommittees last month.

“Community input has played an important role in this project, and we are delighted that the Community Board, along with numerous neighborhood organizations, has offered this strong endorsement,” said Museum President Ellen Futter.

There’s still some community opposition. A group called the Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park wrote in a message to supporters that the “nearly unanimous vote is wildly out of sync with the views of the neighborhood.” The group is attempting to raise money to hire a lawyer.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is set to vote on Oct. 11, and the plan still needs to go through an environmental review.

The museum released some new slides of the design, including the one below of a rear view:


NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 10 comments | permalink
    1. Anne says:

      Well, the hall looks beautiful, but what’s with the proposed rear-view? How ugly! Where are all the beautiful shaded areas? The benches and trees? Can you imagine how awful this will be on a 90 degree day in August?

      Why do modern architecture and urban planning always go in the direction of replacing old, mellow spaces built on a human scale with sterile expanses that look like big parking lot entrances? Are they actually trying to discourage people from enjoying the space?

      Maybe this is the new, state of the art anti-rat design. Yes, that must be it. This is what a park ends up looking like when the primary intention is to discourage rats, not encourage people to relax in it.

      Please do better.

      • Tarzana72 says:

        This is the existing terrace, showing the view of the new building from the terrace. The terrace is often packed on the hot days you describe with families and kids enjoying the sprinklers.

      • Christine E says:

        Have you ever been to the terrace? This is how it currently looks. The designers that you are berating have not changed a thing. And for that, I am glad — I was worried we would lose the terrace which is a beautifully designed sanctuary of calm and which compliments the striking glass of the Rose Center beautifully. And which is enjoyed by adults and young alike (kids delight in splashing in the water feature).

        The picture is only showing how the new building will look when peeking up from the horizon.

        I really don’t understand how people who do not even use the museum space can cast judgement!

        • Anna says:

          It says “proposed rear view,” not current rear view, so it was an honest misunderstanding.

          I’m not part of the community group opposing the changes, although I’m definitely sympathetic to their concerns. The AMNH has been part of my “backyard” since I was a child. I grew up here and the AMNH is one of my favorite places in the city. I don’t remember ever seeing this terrace, but if I had, I’d have immediately walked in the opposite direction. I stand by my original opinion – it’s ugly and sterile-looking.

          This has been happening all over. Look at what was done to the Morgan or the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston. I guess we can be grateful that the original structures weren’t torn down and replaced completely, but the additions look like strange alien growths on mellow old historic buildings. The original ambiance and the sense of going back in time are lost with these additions.

          I actually think the AMNH has done a good job with its renovations overall, mostly because they’ve been isolated to the north and northwest sides and haven’t interfered with the beauty of the CPW facade and the south side (so if you want to avoid looking at them, you can). And I have to admit that the Rose Center planetarium was a really inspired bit of construction and looks beautiful at night.

          A lot of the interior of the AMNH looks (and even, delightfully, smells) remarkably like it did when I first visited it as a child, even with the incorporation of the modern shop and other renovated spaces. At least some of people involved in these projects must have understood the magic of the museum and tried hard not to violate it. I hope that they will be similarly respectful with any future expansion to both the internal and external space of the museum.

          • Cris Fernandez, RN says:

            Another example of museums architecture gone awry is the Rose Center The center, has had two major repairs with in seven years Who paid for them? We did with our taxes. Birds also find the Rose Center” attractive”, causing hundreds if not thousand of birds annually to fly to their deaths. The AMNH needs to take care of our living planet and not create more specimens for their dioramas.

    2. Dr. Cary Goodman says:

      No surprise that CB 7 endorsed this toxic plan since they are nominated & appointed by the politicians who have appropriated $100 million from our city’s budget for the proposed project.

      No surprise either that Ellen “Fossil Fool” Futter claims that the community supports this monstrosity. Her community was only engaged after the money was given and the land grab design developed.

      Truth is that more than 4,000 people have signed petitions opposing the museum’s application.

    3. Bob Lamm says:

      I don’t know anyone currently on Community Board 7. I have no personal or political ties to anyone there (or to any local politician). But I’ve known a good number of past members of CB7 and know some current members of a different community board. I haven’t always agreed with their decisions, but I have great respect for them. Cary Goodman offers the ugly implication that current members of CB7 are lackeys bought and paid for by politicians. It’s typical of his overwrought, irresponsible rhetoric. (He says the expansion plan is “toxic” and is a “monstrosity.”) I wouldn’t trust a word that this man says.

    4. Paul RL says:

      Thank you CB7! I don’t always agree with your decisions, but you made a very wise choice here, one that will have positive effects for decades to come. A home run for the Upper West Side!

    5. LL Miner says:

      So many unanswered questions. I was surprised that has been no maquette or walk-through in the park to assess what was presented on paper.
      The letter linked below is a good starting point –a holistic approach:

    6. Zulu says:

      I’m glad to see this moving forward.