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Mather Matters: Famed Architect’s Kiosks Axed from Metropolitan Museum’s Plaza Renovation (with videos)

By Fall 2014, when the Metropolitan Museum’s in-construction, four-block-long entrance plaza is expected to reopen to the public, you’ll gaze upon new fountains, granite paving, plantings, tables, chairs and dramatic nighttime illumination.

But you won’t see this…

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Rendering of the proposed (now eliminated) information and ticketing kiosk, designed by architect Rick Mather

…or this:

MetKiosk2.jpg
Food service kiosk, also designed by Mather

Excited that an architect I have admired would leave a footprint, however modest, in Manhattan, I was surprised not to see or hear anything about those kiosks at the Met’s press lunch this month, when a rendering of the revamped plaza (for which the OLIN firm is lead design consultant) was shown to us.

In response to neighborhood resistance, the Met has not only axed Mather’s kiosks but also reduced the planned furnishings (a new amenity for theplaza) from 100 tables and 400 chairs to 30 tables and 120 chairs.

Here (after a brief description of the museum’s in-construction new galleries, providing more space for its European paintings collection) is director Tom Campbell‘s humorous take on the energizing effect that the $65-million re-do of the plaza (funded by Met trustee David Koch) will have on museum visitors:

Soon after the museum’s original announcement in February of its outdoor renovation plans, I shot (but never used) a CultureGrrl Video showing the somewhat delapidated condition of the plaza. I returned on Tuesday, mini-camcorder in hand, to have a look at what are now muddy construction pits on either side of the grand staircase. (That staircase will remain as is.)

As luck would have it, our video visit on an almost spring-like day will be accompanied by some soulful street singing, joined at the end by the Voice of CultureGrrl. The Met should consider a street performers’ festival to open the new plaza, featuring Select Blendz (Tuesday afternoon’s entertainers), along with others who have played the plaza. (Somehow, I doubt they’ll take that suggestion.)

At the end of this video, you’ll see four renderings of what the finished plaza is expected to look like:

an ArtsJournal blog