Monday, August 27, 2012

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.

1 comment:

  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

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