Skip to main content

Barclays Center's rusted steel cladding draws mixed reactions, but that's just a partial way to evaluate arena (what about urbanism, and the project's promises?)

In a Times article published online today, Constructing a Facade Both Rugged and Rusty, some passers-by wonder if the pre-rusted steel cladding on the Barclays Center is supposed to be painted? No.

In comments, there critics of the structure:
Its the bulk and shape of the building that's the problem, the rusting steel only confirms your first impression of a hulking cockroach. And in few years the rust stains on the sidewalks will complete the picture.
And some supporters:
Barclays Center's exterior actually looks pretty good. I'm just glad it's not a clone of Conseco Fieldhouse (or whatever it's called nowadays), which was what Forest City Ratner had in mind between Frank Gehry's failed design and what is being realized.
The larger issues

Some point out how the arena can't be disentangled from the larger project, and I agree. In fact, I think there are at least four perspectives, the first of which which is too early to judge (though the early word, from arena builders, is of course very positive):
  • the experience of the arena-goer
  • the building as a piece of urban sculpture
  • the arena and the associated project as a challenge for urbanism
  • the process behind the arena and the larger Atlantic Yards project, including vast promises, and questionable deals
The critics look broadly

One comments:
I happen to like Cor-Ten as a material and think it adds interesting visual texture --when used appropriately (the school I attended, built in the mid '70s, is clad in it, still functions well and looks contemporary).
However, no amount of interesting building material will compensate for the horrible location of this arena, jammed into the busiest intersection in Brooklyn. It's sponsorship by Barclays (Biggest Banking Scandal) only adds to the drama that huge public subsidies were used and local residents displaced through eminent domain.

Will the affordable housing promised still materialize?
Permanent jobs --above the minimum wage?
Ticket prices those in the surrounding neighborhoods can afford?
Controversy over the use of Cor-Ten is the least of it.
Another:
The flouting of neighborhood sensibilities has been well documented...eminent domain as a disingenuous premise to impose tax subsidized blight benefiting Jay-Z and Russian billionaire Prokhorov, along with Ratner ...enormous congestion impacts with nary a thought to residential parking issues-already under stress...the on-premises liquor dispensing club open to high rollers after events have ended...the list can certainly go on ad nauseum...but the ultimate addition of insult to injury is this disgusting rusted heap of alleged architecture
Another:
Rust can be beautiful, but the Barclay center is ugly as sin and makes the entire neighborhood look blighted. But of course, the actual neighborhood didn't want this thing in the first place (no other city has a stadium this size plunked down in the middle of a residential neighborhood like this one). So, I'm guessing that Ratner and Bloomberg and the rest of them couldn't care less about what people in the actual neighborhood, and whose lives will greatly be affected by this center, think.
What about the Times?

And one takes aim at the Times's casual summary that, "After years of building, and even more years of bickering, the arena is almost finished":
Years of bickering? When you write promotional material for Bruce Ratner (where are the jobs, Bruce, and the affordable housing?), which highlights the virtues of rusting iron, at least have the decency to describe the years of community oppostion and lawsuits - the human element - as civic protest, not bickering. Why the Times chooses to write about rust, and not the impact of Bruce's ripoff on Brooklyn, is the real story here. A sad state of affairs.
I tried to post a comment pointing to my coverage of affordable housing today, but it hasn't been posted. (Somehow I haven't had any luck at all in the past week or so posting comments at the Times. Almost enough to make one a little paranoid.)

Other voices

A Curbed video showed more passers-by than not lauding the design, though only a few raised larger issues, like the woman who said the arena "didn't deliver on its promises."

Patch noted:
In fact, a Patch poll from March found that 66 percent of readers thought the arena was an eyesore, with only 30 percent thinking the fa├žade looked “21st century,” and three percent not sure.
Department of WTF

Architect Gragg Pasquarelli told the Times that the arena looked "like what would happen if 'Richard Serra and Chanel created a U.F.O. together.'" 

Oh.

Comments

  1. Loyal Brooklyn Daughter11:51 PM

    billion dollar eyesore; a poking stick in the eye of Brooklyn. a deliberate insult after a long train of injuries to the community.The petrified phallus sculpture in front and the unwelcoming, out of place design of public space in front then arena confirm wanton disregard and open insult to the people whom are now forced to internalize the physic wound as civic design.This can not be allowed to remain as it without consequences. The people are injured and must be made whole.A remedy is demanded as well as full accountability for all promises made

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.