NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Metropolitan Museum of Art has begun construction on a complete overhaul of its entrance plaza.
The landmark museum broke ground on Monday for renovation of the plaza, which runs for four blocks along Fifth Avenue between 80th and 84th streets.
“Six million pedestrians walk along these sidewalks every year. More than 2,000 Museum staff and volunteers enter and exit every day. Thousands more ride by in buses and taxis. We believe all these constituencies will enjoy the new plaza for generations to come” museum board of trustees chairman Daniel Brodsky said in a news release. “It will give the Met a portal outside that is truly worthy of the masterpieces that grace our galleries inside.”
The renovated plaza will include new fountains next to the front stairs. They will replace the deteriorating fountains that were constructed in the 1970s and had been in use ever since.
The new fountains will be positioned closer to the front steps to the museum, thus improving access to street-level public entrances at 81st and 83rd streets. The granite fountains will operate year-round.
The new plaza will also feature about 100 new London Plane and linden trees planted in large pits, replacing the 44 London Plane trees that were planted in such a fashion to have limited life spans and low benefits to the environment.
New seating areas and new energy-efficient nighttime lighting are also planned, as well as seasonal planting at the base of the building.
The last renovation to the Fifth Avenue Plaza happened 40 years ago. At that time, the focus was on improving vehicular access, but today, vehicular access to the plaza is dangerous given how much pedestrian traffic has increased.
The new plaza will open to the public in the fall of 2014. It will be renamed the David H. Koch Plaza to honor the trustee who provided the full $65 million for the project.
Groundbreaking had been set for November, but was delayed due to Superstorm Sandy.
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