Archtober Building of the Day #20
The Metropolitan Museum of Art David H. Koch Plaza
1000 5th Avenue
Do you know the difference between hedging your trees and pollarding them? Thanks to the enlightenment provided by our tour guides from OLIN’s design team, Partner Dennis McGlade and Associate Scott Dismukes, those who attended yesterday’s Archtober tour do now. The London Plane trees in the bosques adjacent to the ground level entrances at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be pollarded—trimmed each winter to the same height. The Little Leaf Lindens, which form the two flanking rows of sidewalk trees will pruned annually to form aerial hedges, thus distinguishing them from the fluffy naturals of Central Park.
As a long-time resident of the Upper East Side neighborhood, I commend the Met, and its landscape architects at OLIN for creating a new welcoming public space—the newly opened David H. Koch Plaza—in place of the arid old pair of linear fountains that had occupied the front of the museum since 1970. (Roche Dinkeloo—they enlarged the steps, too, which we all agree are fantastic.) Filled with great insights from schemes of the past, OLIN’s meticulously detailed design of Canadian Autumn brown granite, old fave Deer Isle granite, and Nordic Café in the fountain is a symphony of paving patterns, each with a functional designation. There’s even a rumble strip to foil the skateboarders.
There are many things to like about the new fountains, too. My favorite feature is the drip edge, which makes it possible for dogs to sip from the fountain without arousing the ire of security guards. So too can plenty of toddling three year olds run their hands through the shiny sheeting water, unbeknownst to their nannies. A fountain for man and beast!
Making trees thrive in granite takes a lot of subsurface infrastructure, and there is plenty of it hidden from view. Enlarged tree pits, run-off control, underground tunnels, and retention basins make the expanse of granite an environmental asset. It takes a long time to achieve the full effect—McGlade said it might take about fifteen years before the hedging of the trees makes them into the trapezoidal masses of the renderings.
It will be fun to watch them grow, and I’m sure I’ll spend many a happy hour sitting with my dog, Glow, under the bright red parasols.
Come back at night to see the magnificent new illumination designed by L’Observatoire. It glows, too.