Breuer Building MET, New York

Quaking Aspen

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York
2015 – 2016

Once the iconic home of the Whitney Museum on Madison Avenue and 57th Street, the Breuer building will now find new life as it houses artworks from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The entrance to the modernist building is accessed via a bridge which crosses over a sunken courtyard, 4.5 m below. This courtyard will be transformed into a publicly accessible space, making it part of the city. It is just off Madison Avenue and yet feels like a space of its own. Since the space needs to accomodate large events, most of the space is left open and flexible, while the long back wall will be changed from a flat, monotonous surface into a thickened and changing experience. By building up the existing planters, full size Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) can be planted. Its bark is smooth and pale, and its leaves shimmer and clatter in the wind, producing a soothing sound in the contained space below noisy Manhattan streets. The top of the trees are just visible from street level, marking a curious new level in relation to the pavement, and drawing the visitor in.