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Plaza Flex
The Met plays nice with neighbors in effort to stay on schedule.
Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum / OLIN

In an effort to get shovels in the ground on time, the Metropolitan Museum of Art agreed to strike plans to place refreshment and ticketing kiosks on their $60-million plaza renovation designed by OLIN. “The kiosks have been withdrawn from the plan, but we have reserved the right to reintroduce them after watching the plaza in operation,” said Harold Holzer, senior vice president of external affairs for the Met. The museum was responding to complaints from nearby co-op boards that the plaza was in danger of becoming like Starbucks, the website reported. Holzer told AN that in order to move forward expeditiously certain issues would be tabled until the plaza was up and running, including whether to allow the controversial veteran-owned hot dog carts back onto the site. Veterans are permitted to sell food on the plaza based on a 19th-century law. The sidewalks near the museum are also teeming with artisans who are permitted by the city to sell their wares as well. “Let’s see which vendors return, vets or non-vets,” said Holzer.

Elevation of the renovated plaza.

The museum already has all city-wide approvals necessary, but is treading carefully so as to not ruffle feathers of its lawyered-up neighbors. The museum has also recalibrated the number of freestanding tables to 30 (15 north, 15 south) and chairs to 120. Linden trees trimmed into topiaries will flank the plaza along the sidewalks leading to the plaza. But perhaps the most dramatic change will be LED up-lights that will highlight facade details.

Made possible by philanthropist David H. Koch, the OLIN plaza will scrap much of the 1970 renovation by architect Kevin Roche. In particular the Roche-designed fountains will be replaced with a pair of square water features that will flank the famous steps.

Plaza site plan.

Holzer said that the first month will prove to be the most challenging when the fences go up and construction begins. A September 13 community meeting presented whimsical wayfinding strategies designed by LaPlaca Cohen, who have been handling the Met’s advertising for several years.

The museum said that they always held meetings with nearby co-op board presidents on a quarterly basis, but decided to ramp up the schedule to once a month as the October 15 groundbreaking deadline approached. The work is scheduled to be completed by Fall 2014.

Tom Stoelker