Metropolitan Museum Breaks Ground on New Plaza, Fountains

(Rendering by OLIN)

Change is afoot along the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s four-block-long outdoor plaza (fear not, the crowd-pleasing front steps will remain just as they are). Last renovated four decades ago with an eye to vehicular access, the plaza is undergoing a $65 million transformation masterminded by an OLIN team led by partner Dennis McGlade. The new outdoor plaza will open to the public in the fall of 2014 as “The David H. Koch Plaza,” announced the museum at last week’s groundbreaking (a symbolic affair, postponed by Hurricane Sandy, as excavaction got underway in October). Koch, a museum trustee, donated the entire project budget.

Among the upgrades are improved museum access, including additional seating options on either side of the grand staircase and opening up a variety of pedestrian routes by replacing existing pavement with granite paving. Then there are the fountains: it’s out with the door-impeding long ones and in with contemporary circle-in-a-square versions. Flanked by long stone benches, the new granite fountains will flow year-round thanks to freeze-fighting recycled steam. Fluidity Design Consultants promises “glassy water streams” that will be individually size-controlled and programmed to present a wide variety of programmable patterns. Visitors that can tear themselves away from the sure-to-be-mesmerizing water features can frolic among some 100 newly planted trees, including allées of large Little Leaf Linden trees, to be pruned in the form of two Palais Royal-style aerial hedges. All of this will be cleverly illuminated by a new lighting scheme developed by L’Observatoire International.