Museum of Natural History expansion plans stalled by restraining order and lawsuit

Posted On Tue, October 30, 2018 By

Posted On Tue, October 30, 2018 By In Museums, New Developments, Starchitecture, Upper West Side 

Rendering via Studio Gang

As 6sqft previously reported, last October the architects at Studio Gang tweaked their proposal for the American Museum of Natural History expansion to preserve more public parkland–and the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved the plans. Now, Curbed reports, those expansion plans have been put on hold after a temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued against the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation by New York State Supreme Court justice Lynn Kotler. The TRO follows a lawsuit filed by a community group that has been opposed to the expansion, saying it will destroy the park, cause trees to be removed and endanger the safety and environment surrounding the construction area.

American Museum of Natural History, Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang, Richard Gilder Center for Science Education and Innovation
Rendering via Studio Gang

The opposing group, known as the Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park, has been fighting the creation of the new 235,000-square-foot education center for some time, though the project has the backing of the local community board. The group claims the museum doesn’t have the right to build on the property until a much more extensive review process is undertaken. West Side Rag quotes the group’s president, Laura Quinlan Messersmith: “We cannot allow this peaceful oasis to become a dangerous and toxic construction site.”

American Museum of Natural History, Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang, Richard Gilder Center for Science Education and Innovation
Rendering via Studio Gang

The Museum will challenge the court decision, and said in a statement: “Enhancing science literacy has never been more important than it is now, and the Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation will add significant capacity to the Museum’s ability to fulfill this important part of our mission. The Gilder Center, like all applicable Museum projects, has complied with New York City’s rigorous environmental review process, which in this case lasted approximately two years and included multiple levels of review and public consultation. The City of New York and the Museum have the right to bring this matter at this time to the appellate court and we intend to do so.”

It’s not yet known how much of a delay the latest legal snag will cause in the construction timeline. The project was scheduled for completion in 2020,

[Via Curbed and West Side Rag]

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