A Philadelphia firm’s vision will guide major renovations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The museum unveiled a plan this week by landscape design firm OLIN for redoing the museum’s monumental front entrance.
Most visitors to the Met spend time in line or eating ice cream on its front plaza, which is four blocks long. OLIN’s Dennis McGlade, says his team designed the Met’s new front entrance to make it more welcoming.
“The new plaza is going to have a pair of beautiful new fountains flanking the monumental steps going up to the main entrance of the Met [that] will be very lively. They will have streams of water, each will be controlled separately by its own pump so this water display can have a bit of variety throughout the day,” McGlade said.
“They also can be turned off, and then the fountain will become like mirrors of water reflecting the sky and the museum,” he said.
McGlade’s firm is the designer behind a number of major projects including renovating Dilworth Plaza outside Philadelphia City Hall.
“Like Dilworth Plaza,” McGlade says, “the existing situation at the Met is about 40 years old. It was out of date. The program changed.”
Unlike Dilworth Plaza, the Met’s front “lawn” gets 5 million visitors a year.
The Met’s plaza was last revamped in 1968. Besides the fountains, the square will get new trees, beds of native shrubs, fountains, and places to sit and eat.
“When you work outside of your own city, perhaps you’re working somewhat outside of your comfort zone. You really have to pay attention. We know New York very well. We’ve been working there for 20, 30 years,” McGlade said. “But when you’re…visiting, I think certainly it heightens our radar and our perceptions of the place.
“It’s sort of all new and wonderful and so I think when you’re working out of the city that’s what’s very exciting, that you really get to learn the place you’re in.”
Philadelphia is wonderful, McGlade concludes, but all cities can’t look like Philadelphia.