Jeanne Gang Makes Science Visible In New Design For Museum Of Natural History

The sleek $325 million addition will house all things science in the museum’s collection.


The Natural History Museum in New York City has revealed plans for a $325 million addition designed by architect Jeanne Gang. Renderings reveal a smooth, undulating form that looks as though a polar ice cap floated right onto West 79th Street. The 218,000-square-foot, six-story space is designed to “make the science visible,” as MNH president Ellen V. Futter told the New York Times.

Proposed Façade Concept—Springtime View with Street Trees, Park Plantings, and Buildings on West Side of 79th Street

The new addition–scheduled for completion in late 2019 or early 2020–features a curvilinear stone and glass exterior and an interior made of reinforced concrete. It will house all things science-related in the museum’s collection, and will include an insect hall, butterfly conservatory, and Invisible Worlds Theater that will contain the latest imaging technology. According to the Times, Gang drew inspiration for the design from forces of nature, such as “geological canyons, glacial forms.”

Proposed Elevation within Existing Museum Complex

Gang is a master of form, expertly crafting audacious architecture that never feels out of place, as her exciting Aqua Tower in Chicago proves.

But in New York, she’ll have her work cut out for her. Now that the design has been released, the museum is gearing up for the public approval process, which requires presenting plans for expansion to neighborhood groups. The museum will likely feel some push back from residents, who are concerned about the new structure protruding too much into Teddy Roosevelt Park, which surrounds it. To address these concerns, the museum already plans to take down three of its existing buildings to make room for the new expansion, though the current plan still takes up 11,600 square feet (about a quarter of an acre) of parkland.

Read more about the Natural History Museum addition at the New York Times.

About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.