The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is building a new home in an unlikely spot — the landmark First Church of Christ, Scientist on Central Park West and 96th Street. It’s quite a task, and the design took a while to pass muster with the Landmarks Preservation Commission. It’s arguably the most ambitious architectural project in the neighborhood in decades.
The museum, now located at 212 West 83rd Street, is moving so it can have more space. The 86,000 square foot new museum (68,000 will be occupiable) will nearly triple its exhibition space.
The main auditorium of the church, with its 60-foot barrel-vaulted ceiling, will be split into two floors. And floors will be added elsewhere in the church too. There will even be special exhibition space in the attic area, and a new outdoor terrace that people access by traveling on a glass elevator within the steeple.
Now the architect, who says she’s been fascinated by this building for years, is explaining how she conceived of the challenge. Sylvia Smith, a senior partner at architecture firm FXCollaborative. wrote a statement about how she conceptualized the design. The design “maintains the building’s strong relationship between its light-filled interior spaces and stately exterior presence. It renews the hopefulness and optimism of the original Beaux-Arts structure as the building once again becomes a place of exploration, gathering, and celebration open to all,” she wrote.
The whole statement is here.
FX has sent out more renderings above and below. A design company called Local Projects will help create the exhibition space. The museum has said the building is expected to open in 2023.