Metropolitan Museum Courtyard Renovation Plans Court Controversy

Ambitious plans to revamp the Metropolitan Museum's Fifth Avenue plaza, more than 40 years after its last makeover, are being criticized by the Museum's affluent neighbors, who fear that the project might be too successful.
February 17, 2012, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The project to refurbish the neglected front-door of the museum, designed by Olin and funded with a $60 million donation by David H. Koch, would "transform this four-block-long stretch along Fifth Avenue, from 80th to 84th Street, into a more efficient, pleasing and environmentally friendly space, with new fountains, tree-shaded allées, seating areas, museum-run kiosks and softer, energy-efficient nighttime lighting", according to Carol Vogel in an article in The New York Times.

While many are delighted by the plan to spruce up the main area of interaction between one of the leading museum of the world and the city's streets, a cohort of neighbors are dreading the outcome. According to Amy Zimmer, reporting in DNAinfo, "instead of a vision of European-style splendor, the plaza's well-heeled neighbors see it as little more than a huge gathering spot. 'I don't think it's appropriate,' Community Board 8 member Peggy Price said. 'This is a neighborhood, not a place to hang out.'"

"Residents also blasted the museum for not addressing safety problems neighbors have been complaining about for decades," writes Zimmer.

While the board's landmarks committee did eventually vote to approve the lighting and planting plans, they voted against "the tables and chairs, the kiosks and the new fountains, which one member said looked like they belonged in a children's playground rather than in front of Beaux Arts building."

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