The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, founded in New York City in 1870, is the largest art museum in the United States and one of the ten largest in the world. The founders included businessmen and financiers, as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day, who wanted to open a museum to bring art and art education to the American people.

The Museum’s new, completely redesigned David H. Koch Plaza officially opened in 2015, after a major two-year reconstruction effort. The massive outdoor space—which runs along Fifth Avenue for four city blocks, the entire length of the Museum’s landmark façade—now features completely new fountains, paving, lighting, allées and bosques of trees leading to the Museum’s entrances from north and south, and seating areas for visitors.

The previous lighting illuminated the façade unevenly via streetlight-mounted fixtures, flattening the face of the building and sacrificing the precision of the Beaux-Arts Style facade. Meanwhile, glare from the floodlights was not particularly conducive to an inviting plaza environment. The new lighting design invigorates the facade with new life, highlighting its dimensionality while treating the Museum itself as a work of art.

All lighting elements are integrated into the facade and the plaza, eliminating glare and melding seamlessly with the existing architecture. The shape and form of the cornices, molding, decorative statues and pillars are cast in relief, magnifying the elegance of the original design.

Rendering by L'Observatoire International

Location New York, New York, USA
Date Completed 2014
Landscape Architect Olin Partnership
Fluidity Design Consultants Fluidity Design Consultants
Designer Spatial Affairs Bureau
Client The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Type Museums + Cultural Institutions
size20,000 ft2 / 2,000 m2
Status Built

L'Observatoire Intl Team
Principal Hervé Descottes
Project Leader Jeff Taylor
Project Team Nicolas Dufils Jason Neches
Awards IES Illumination Award of Merit , 2015
Press Architectural Lighting, Feb 2015
The Architect's Newspaper, Mar 2015
New York Times, Feb 2012
Photo Credits OLIN / Sahar Coston-Hardy, Studio Dubuisson, Devika Bilimoria, Rendering by L'O