Construction has begun on a large new extension for New York City's American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). The building, designed by Studio Gang, will boast a degree of sustainable technology and provide additional exhibition spaces, a theater, library, and more.

The Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation will have a total floorspace of 230,000 sq ft (roughly 21,300 sq m), spread over five floors. Its front-facing facade will be finished in concrete, sculpted into rock-like forms and glazed with fritted glass.

"Our design for the Gilder Center will invite visitors to explore the wonders of the Museum with its openness and smooth, flowing geometry," says Studio Gang founder Jeanne Gang. "Through a network of new connections, people will be able to follow their own curiosity to discover treasures of natural history. This network is accessed through the Central Exhibition Hall, which utilizes the fluidity of concrete to create a porous structure and iconic interior."

Visitors will be greeted by the impressive-looking Central Exhibition Hall, which will be defined by a large staircase with integrated seating. Some other notable areas inside will include a multi-story glass-walled Collections Core, allowing the public to see into the working areas of the museum, a butterfly vivarium, and insectarium. Additionally, there will be educational areas, a redesigned library, and improved access to other parts of the museum.

The building is slated for LEED Gold (a green building standard) certification and will feature water-efficient landscaping intended to manage stormwater on site, as well as rainwater collection and greywater reuse. It will also have a focus on natural lighting within.

The Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation was first proposed some seven years ago but, according to Curbed NY, has been delayed due to a series of legal headaches and a lawsuit over the loss of park space and trees resulting from its construction – much like the issues that thwarted George Lucas' plans to build his museum in Chicago.

Now definitely underway though, the project has a budget of US$383 million and is expected to open in late 2020.

Sources: AMNH, Studio Gang

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