Sunday, March 11, 2012

Is the Barclays Center ugly? Is that the right question?

The results of a Patch poll--is the Barclays Center ugly?--are hardly scientific:


Actually, I think it's likely that some architecture critics and many sports reporters/columnists will like the building, think it's cool Brooklyn "has" a team, like that the scoreboard is visible from the street, and appreciate that the arena is reachable by public transit.

But one commenter on the Patch poll raised a larger question:
Even if the architecture was beautiful, which it isn't, it is ugly in the sense that it is a product of political corruption. A big developer takes public money, over the objection of much of the affected community, to build something we didn't need which will have many noxious effects on the community (traffic, pollution, noise, etc.), Promised benefits (jobs, affordable housing) disappear from the discussion as soon as its approved. Which poltiician is trying to get Forrest City Ratner to repay the public for the missing benefits? When did capitalism become I'll risk your money for my gain?
Those points, of course, can be debated, but the fact is this: Atlantic Yards was sold to the public as a package deal, with the overall benefits said to trump the overall costs. Any preliminary assessment, however, has to reckon with the failure to deliver that package, as well as the sketchiness of the promises to begin with.

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