Sunday, December 09, 2012

Architectural Record: facade makes arena "seem surprisingly in sync" but "can't be declared a civic triumph just yet"

Architectural Record's Joann Gonchar offers a mostly positive but ultimately cautious review, Beauty and the Behemoth: SHoP deploys digital technology and imaginative design to give Brooklyn's Barclays Center unexpected civic presence.:
Ellerbe Becket's 1999 Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis provided the inspiration for the layout: FCRC's CEO, Bruce Ratner, had visited Conseco (since renamed Bankers Life Fieldhouse) and reportedly asked that it be re-created in Brooklyn. Although an exact facsimile was impractical, the Brooklyn arena does borrow some of the older facility's best features, says Stephen Duethman, AECOM's project manager. He points to the raked seating, with an upper bowl sloped 36 degrees, intended to make fans feel as though they are right on top of the action. The sightlines are excellent, even from the last row of seats, which are about 160 feet from the court's sidelines...
The layout of Barclays has other features to recommend it, including framed views from the entry lobby, the concourses, and some of the bars and concessions into the stadium bowl. Glazing on street level and on the structure's upper levels, between the sinuous bands of steel, allows a visual connection to the surrounding urban context.
The interior finishes, which were part of SHoP's contract, are less successful than the spatial configuration or the powerful facade. In the concourses, the gray terrazzo floors, the black paint of the metal deck supporting the structure above, and the suspended linear lighting fixtures create a cold and gloomy feeling. Even the vendors' signage—a typical source of lively cacophony in sports venues—consists of block letters illuminated from behind only in white light.
If the building's inside is dreary, the extroverted exterior more than compensates....The result is a rich coating of rust—one that makes the arena seem surprisingly in sync with the borough's industrial heritage, as though it could already be 100 years old. But even if Barclays feels as though it belongs on its site, like an architectural relic, it can't be declared a civic triumph just yet, since it is only the first component of the much larger project now expected to take 25 years to realize. 

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