Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Remember the Barclays Center meditation room? It's a good place to store chairs and wheelchairs (and the ceiling needs fixing)

Amid the general praise for the Barclays Center after the Nets' home exhibition debut last night--more on that in another post--one arena feature was surely unknown to the sports media.

It was once a big deal. Now the Barclays Center meditation room--with wheelchair storage, no signage inside or out, holes in the ceiling, cinderblock walls, and a decidedly uncontemplative interior-- looks like an afterthought.

I didn't see anyone using it. Or, to be charitable after a visit to the arena little more than two weeks after it opened, maybe, like some other parts of the arena, it's still being finished.

At least, unlike nearly every other element of the Barclays Center, there's no branding attached.

No chapel, but meditation room

As some might recall, the Reverend Herbert Daughtry, who runs a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) partner organization supported by Forest City Ratner, originally wanted a chapel.

A religious space wouldn't fly, so instead emerged the meditation room or, as Daughtry called it in his dramatic 8/23/06 testimony at the hearing on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement, an atrium.

"It will provide a place for our young, a place for the seniors, a place for the youth to come together in an atrium designed by us," he crowed, to the excitement of many followers in the audience.

The Brooklyn Paper, well after its sale to Rupert Murdoch's Community Newspaper Group, puffed the story big in April 2010, as indicated at right:
“To our knowledge, the meditation room at Barclays Center will be the first meditation room to be included in a new NBA arena,” said the [architects'] spokeswoman, Sara Cziok.
However, in August of that year I pointed out that the room would actually be about 150 square feet. That likely was, at least in part, a consequence of the redesign and shrinking of the arena to save money.

A visit, with video

At the arena last night, no signage indicated either the location of or the entrance to the meditation room, which is likely why it was empty when I and a few others took a look.

But an arena staffer directed me to it, tucked back from the arena corridor on the main floor, next to a first aid room of roughly the same size. (A Forest City Ratner executive, in a WNYC piece broadcast on the day of the arena opening 9/28/12, couldn't identify the location.)

It doesn't look "designed by us" or, particularly, by anybody.



A place for reflection

The Brooklyn Paper reported in 2010:
“The idea is to say to people there are values in reflection, contemplation,” explained Daughtry, who gave the convocation at the groundbreaking ceremony for the arena last month.
“Whenever you’re in the arena, you can go to meditate.”
And, perhaps, just commune with a bunch of chairs--and some unfinished ceiling tiles.

According to the CBA

What does the CBA say about the "Meditation Room"?
(3) Meditation Room. Upon completion of the Project, located inside the Arena will be a meditation room to be used by the Community and patrons. As will be more fully described in the Project Implementation Plan described in Section III, Part G, DBNA will work with the Arena Developer to design this room for structured programs and services under the supervision and guidelines of the DBNA’s committee on Arena Related Programs, described below.
Well, perhaps the "structured programs and services" are coming. According to the website of Daughtry's Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance:

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