The Met proudly calls the recently redone space fronting the museum the David H. Koch Plaza. I call it a failed “piazza”, a banal public space with dull orange market umbrellas more appropriate to a down-at-heals provincial Sicilian trattoria than New York’s grand Fifth Avenue.
The piazza has one hundred and six trees imprisoned by iron collars planted in two banal rows in an arid wasteland of paving, some 70,000 square feet stretching four city blocks. Nothing breaks the angular monotony of the plain geometric granite blocks that anchor the fountains and the orange parasols that mar the Museum’s classic façade. The very best of second rate architectural design that money, some $65 million can buy.
This piazza boasts two marble fountains prominently branded with David Koch’s name in gold letters. They sit in what has become a de rigueur feature of modern affluence, the infinity pool, if you can bend that low to enjoy the view. The fountains’ 48 computer controlled streams of water remind of Brussels’ famed Mannekin Pis, the naked little bronze boy statue urinating into a fountain; the Met’s fountains however just keep pissing away without discernible rhyme or reason.
About the blight of garish food carts that sell halal souvlaki, hot dogs and $1 water bottles, please do not patronize or placate me by claiming this Civil War tradition allows disabled veterans to be gainfully employed. If the best we can do for our disabled vets is to give them a sidewalk on which to freeze their asses off in winter and sweat their balls off in summer, then we are indeed a sorry country.
When originally announced it was promised that the plaza would not be branded with the Koch name. Two years and $65 million dollars later Thomas P. Campbell, the Met’s director “thought it was the right thing to do”. Money does talk. I guess I should be thankful that I do not have to walk by the Donald J. Trump Plaza on the way to work.