Visitors approaching from the southeast of the original Frick residence pass by an elevated green space created in 1977, known today as the 70th Street Garden. The Frick hired noted landscape architect Russell Page, who configured its composition, conceiving the arrangement of colorful plantings, boxwood, and trees and design of the central fountain and pea gravel paths. Page intended this as a viewing garden rather than one to be entered.
The portico, originally a covered walkway that faced the lawn at the north end of the historic Fifth Avenue Garden, was designed by Thomas Hastings, the architect of the Frick residence. In 2011, it was enclosed and its architectural features cleaned and conserved. This underutilized space was transformed into a new daylit gallery for sculpture and decorative arts.
The Garden Court, at the heart of the museum, was designed by John Russell Pope for the museum's opening in 1935 to replace the open carriage court of the original Frick residence. The Court's paired Ionic columns and symmetrical planting beds were echoed in Pope's later designs for the original building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
The Frick residence was constructed in 1914 according to the architectural design of Thomas Hastings of Carrère and Hastings. Its major ground floor rooms (the museum’s galleries today) and the second-floor family living quarters had as their principal views an elevated set-back garden on Fifth Avenue, which featured a grand lawn, limestone steps, neoclassical urns, and Mediterranean-style mosaic paths to set off plantings. These west-facing rooms also faced Manhattan’s largest public garden, Central Park, located immediately across the street.
As a result of a decision of the Board of Trustees in 1939, three magnolias were selected for the Fifth Avenue garden. The two trees on the lower tier are Saucer Magnolias (Magnolia soulangeana) and the species on the upper tier by the flagpole is a Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata). Considered to be some of the largest in the New York area, and certainly the most grand in the setting in which they are displayed, they maintain their balance by yearly pruning, which sustains their sprawling shape in proportion to the long limestone facade of The Frick Collection.