Breuer Building MET, New York, USA

Quaking Aspen

Client: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Period: 2015 – 2016
Surface area: 225m2

Once the iconic home of the Whitney Museum at Madison Avenue and 57th Street, the Breuer building will now find new purpose in housing artworks from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The entrance to the modernist building is accessed via a bridge crossing over a sunken courtyard, 4.5 m below. This courtyard will be transformed into a publicly accessible space, newly engaging it in the life of the city. Though just off Madison Avenue, it feels like a place to itself. Since the space needs to accommodate large events, most of it is left open and flexible, while the long back wall will change from a flat, monotonous surface into a thickened and changing experience. Enhancing 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 the noisy Manhattan streets. The tops of the trees are just visible from street level, indicating a whole new level in relation to the pavement, and drawing visitors in.