After almost two years of being shrouded behind blue plywood, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's giant new plaza is open. A preview this morning of the plaza's first renovation in more than 40 years revealed two new fountains with 48 fancy-schmancy jets apiece capable of veritable dance routines, 106 trees (double the number there before). There's also ample seating under red umbrellas, and new LED lights that will light up the facade at night. The biggest deal, though, is that as of tomorrow, all evidence of construction will be gone, and no fences will get in the way of a stroll along the west side of Fifth Avenuefor tourists and residents alike. The $65 million project was entirely funded by billionaire museum trustee and richest man in New York City David H. Koch, and the plaza bears his name. The whole thing is just plain large large: 1,021 feet long; and 70,706 square feet total. Public space for the win.
At this morning's event, which ended with Koch pulling the trigger to send the fountains' jets spewing, museum officials and local officials praised the new public space.