David Koch Pledges $60 Million to Upgrade Met Museum’s Plaza

Koch Pledges $60 Million to Upgrade Met’s Plaza in New York
A rendering shows a bird’s-eye view of proposed Fifth Avenue plaza redesign. OLIN Studio/Metropolitan Museum of Art via Bloomberg

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art announced plans for a redesign of the plaza outside of its Fifth Avenue facade, financed with a $60 million gift from David Koch, a museum trustee.

The project will upgrade the fountains and double the number of the trees along the four-block stretch from 80th to 84th Streets, according to a release from the museum. In 2008, Koch, a billionaire who built his fortune in the chemical and oil industries, pledged $100 million to renovate the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center which was then named after him.

“The plaza won’t be named for anybody,” Harold Holzer, the museum’s senior vice president of external affairs, said yesterday by telephone. “We will probably do a donor recognition plaque on the fountains.”

The museum began meetings and presentations with local residents last night to discuss the plan. On Feb. 13 it will make its first public presentation for the local district planning board, Holzer said.

The museum hired OLIN, a landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm, to be the lead design consultant for the project. The plan will replace the deteriorating existing fountains, built in the 1970s, with ones made of granite that would be positioned closer to the Met’s front steps. The pavement will be replaced and more seating added.

More Trees

The renovated plaza will feature about 100 new trees, including London Plane trees and Little Leaf Linden trees. Some would be pruned in a similar way to the trees at the Palais Royal in Paris.

The project would have to be approved by city agencies including the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Department of Parks & Recreation, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Transportation.

The construction, expected to begin this autumn, would take 23 months, the release said.

“The Metropolitan Museum’s Fifth Avenue plaza is the public face of the Met, the first on-site experience for our millions of visitors from around the world,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director and chief executive officer of the Met, in a statement. “As such, it should mark the beginning of the extraordinary environment that awaits them inside.”

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