On September 10, the new David H. Koch Plaza (of the right-wing Koch brothers) outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened to the public. Designed by OLIN, the renovation transforms four city blocks along Fifth Avenue, with new pavers, fountains, lighting, and allées and bosques of trees.
Previously a vast expanse of hardscape, swamped with vendors, the new design seeks to provide a more varied and pleasant atmosphere to gather prior to or following a visit to the museum. Even in its previous state, the Met Plaza was a marquee gathering place in the city, thanks to the monumental staircase, which has always invited sitting and people watching.
The new design adds more than 100 trees to the plaza, doubling the total, along with temporary and permanent seating, and new seasonal plantings, softening the space but maintaining the Beaux-Arts monumentality. The central stairs were rightly left untouched. Stormwater is managed through suspended paving over the tree pits as well as an underground detention system. “Finally, more than a century after the completion of the Met’s grand Fifth Avenue facade, and more than 40 years after its last plaza renovation, the Museum has created a truly welcoming point of entry,” said Met director Thomas P. Campbell in a statement. “Here now is a cityscape that is environmentally friendly and will please our visitors as they come to experience the unparalleled breadth of masterpieces on display inside.