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American Museum of Natural History’s $325M expansion pushes forward

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The museum has submitted its plans to the Landmarks Preservation Commission

On Thursday the American Museum of Natural History filed plans for its anticipated expansion with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, marking the project’s first major advance since it was first revealed in November, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The filing came with a few surprises, namely a change in its footprint that would allow the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation to take up less space in the surrounding Theodore Roosevelt Park while also requiring fewer trees to be axed in the process.

Responding to requests from the community, the new plan requires the Studio Gang-designed expansion to swallow up a quarter of an acre of Theodore Roosevelt Park rather than half an acre, as previously planned. It also reduces the number of trees lost—a major sticking point for the community—from nine to seven.

Despite all of this, the expansion has actually grown in size by about eight percent to 235,000 square feet. The extra square footage doesn’t mean the building will be taller or take up more park space. Instead, the design has been tweaked to maximize use in areas of an existing building, while removing three other existing buildings.

With the rise in square footage comes a rise in the anticipated price tag. As of now, the expansion is expected to cost $325 million.

The expansion plan is still a proposal. It needs to get approval from the LPC—the museum is a landmark—the Cultural Affairs Department, and the Parks Department before it can proceed.