An Upper West Side church that was once slated for condos will soon become the new headquarters for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM)—and now, an architect has been selected to spearhead that conversion.
FXCollaborative, the firm formerly known as FXFowle, will work with the museum on its new HQ, which is anticipated to open in 2021. In a statement, Laurie Tisch, the co-chair of CMOM’s capital campaign, stated that “we are excited to begin the design process with FXCollaborative as we plan for a future where we can engage even more children and families across New York City.”
CMOM acquired the former First Church of Christ, Scientist at 361 Central Park West earlier this year for $45 million. The structure was designed by the Beaux Arts masters at Carrère and Hastings and opened in 1903; in an old Streetscapes column, the late Christopher Gray called it “one of the city’s most sumptuous churches.”
“In addition to providing us with more space, 361 Central Park West will serve as an extraordinary teaching tool to introduce children to the art of architecture,” CMOM executive director Andy Ackerman said in a statement.
The church was originally due to be transformed into 35 apartment, but thanks to a number of factors—LPC opposition, community board opposition, more community board opposition, and an anticipated rejection at the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals—the previous owner abandoned those plans.
That’s when CMOM stepped in. The museum was planning a move to the Essex Crossing megaproject in the works, but the deal fell through about two years ago. Now, it won’t have to go far for its new building—the onetime church is just over a mile from the museum’s current space on West 83rd Street.
An FXCollaborative spokesperson says the design process has yet to begin, but according to a press release, the renovation will “double the amount of exhibition space while accommodating up to twice as many visitors a year” as the museum is capable of doing in its current home. There will be new galleries, classrooms, and performance spaces, along with a cafe and family-friendly perks like stroller storage.