Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lupica: new AY arena design looks "like a White Castle"

Jumping on the bandwagon of architectural criticism, Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica today opines:
Is it just me, or is the design for Bruce Ratner’s new Nets arena starting to look more and more like a White Castle?

I'd say it looks like Conseco Fieldhouse and its inspiration, Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University, both in Indianapolis.

1 comment:

  1. 1) Thanks for the links to photos of the Conseco Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse!

    While it's hard to judge the aesthetics of the Ellerbe Becket design for the Atlantic Yards arena solely from the few renderings I've seen, if it would come close to looking like Conseco Fieldhouse or Hinkle Fieldhouse, I think the design would in some ways actually be aesthetically BETTER (and potentially more urbane) than the Gehry design.

    a) It seems to me that the Conseco Fieldhouse design is, aesthetically speaking, a modern day, "prettified" version of the wonderfully urbane (and Runyonesque) Madison Square Garden III (the one that was previous to the current one). (Although "the Garden" wasn't, perhaps, equally urbane on all four sides, it's Eighth Avenue side was really terrific.)

    b) And the Hinkle Fieldhouse looks like one of those nice 19th Century armories that still dot NYC (including Brooklyn) -- even though, in the case of the Hinkle Fieldhouse, the arena is in the middle of a parking lot, instead of surrounded by blocks of brownstones.

    However, for those who supported the Atlantic Yards project in large part for the anti-city, "starchitect" Gehry design of the arena, I can understand their feelings that this is an outrageous example of a "bait and switch" tactic.

    2) In some ways more importantly though, I'm surprised that more hasn't been made of the reconfiguration of the arena so that it no longer supports ice hockey. (I haven't been able to read up on this as much as I would have liked, so please forgive me if you have covered this already.)

    I'm not all that familiar with arena economics, so I may be mistaken, but I was under the impression that truly successful arenas (like MSG) are successful because they attract a wide variety of events that keep the building active (and bring in rental fees) almost 24/7: e.g., basketball, hockey, ice shows, circuses, rodeos, horse shows, dog shows, indoor track meets, etc.

    So it would seem to me that if the "arena area" itself (don't know if this is the right expression for that part of an arena where basketball, hockey, etc. is actually played) is only large enough to accommodate basketball (which has a rather small playing area)and too small to accomodate even ice hockey (which also seems to have a rather small playing area), it would also be too small to accommodate A LOT of other rent paying activities (e.g., circuses, ice shows, rodeos, indoor track and field, etc.)

    So I would think that this would really throw off the original financial projects which I would assume had counted on the arena making money (and paying its bills) by attracting these other kinds of activities (which wouldn't have been able to book MSG or wouldn't have been able to afford to book MSG and its great midtown location).

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