Monday, April 07, 2014

In Wall Street Journal, Forest City spins arena's new green roof, claims noise complaints didn't play a role

Rendering by SHoP, provided to Wall Street Journal
So the Wall Street Journal catches up with the plans for the arena green roof, and Forest City mostly gets to spin it their way, complete with a first look at a new rendering.

A Roof Grows on Barclays: Brooklyn Arena Is Getting Dome Coated With Vegetation begins:
Brooklyn's Barclays Center is slated to get a lot greener on the outside and possibly become a quieter neighbor in the process.
Barclays developer Forest City Ratner Cos. is planning to coat the arena's giant dome with a 130,000-square-foot "green roof" composed of small plants and a soil-like cover, resurrecting an idea that was cut years ago in an effort to contain costs.
..."We wanted to do the amenity for the benefits to the community and the residents that this green roof will bring, rather than having that traditional arena roof," said Linda Chiarelli, an executive vice president at Forest City.
For the "community"? Nah.

It's to help market apartments, which is why the new partner (on future apartments, not the arena or the first tower), the Greenland Group, will help pay for it.

It will also help to keep bass escaping from the roof that bothers neighbors--and, presumably, from reaching the closest neighbors in the coming towers.

The bass

Reporter Eliot Brown displays some skepticism:
But the greenery also would help muffle concert music that escapes from the arena, and several people who have discussed the noise issue with Forest City executives said the company is planting the vegetation to help contain the sound. While most Barclays events aren't noisy, neighbors occasionally complain about concerts that rely heavily on thumping bass sounds.
Ms. Chiarelli acknowledged the green roof will reduce sound levels, although she said noise complaints didn't play a role "in driving the decision." The roof was still being designed, she said, declining to comment on its cost.
Is it credible to say noise complaints didn't play a role in the decision? Not at all.

Is it really back?

The article suggests the green roof simply represents a return to earlier plans:
Barclays' green roof marks the return of a flashy element eliminated from the development plans six years ago because of its cost. Company officials initially billed the green roof as a selling point for the contentious project, which faced opposition from the Prospect Heights neighborhood.
When Forest city unveiled its plans in 2003, the company pledged in a news release that the green roof would offer "lushly landscaped areas for passive recreation and a promenade along the outside edge," complete with a running track.
But that compresses a lot of history. My comment:
The Wall Street Journal does catch Forest City Ratner spinning, given the claim that the green roof is not driven by the need to contain escaping sound.
But it's too kind to report that Barclays' green roof "marks the return of a flashy element."
Actually, the first iteration of the green roof was to be *open to the public.* The second iteration was private open space. There's no indication this green roof will be open to anybody.
Also, unmentioned is the potential significant disruption caused by the construction of the green roof, which was never disclosed or studied in the voluminous environmental review. It falls through the cracks, part of what I call the Culture of Cheating behind the overall Atlantic Yards project.
Indeed, the Barclays sign on the roof fell through the cracks too, since it was never disclosed nor studied, nor mentioned in the design guidelines for the project. As noted below, three cranes will be installed near the arena for six months.

To the story of the green roof is not merely about an "amenity," or about sustainability, or about containing noise.

It's about another failure of accountability.

The press release

Forest City Ratner and Greenland Group to Install Green Roof At Barclays Center
Brooklyn, New York, -- April 7 2014 – Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) and Shanghai-based Greenland Group Co. (Greenland) today announced that they will install a green roof on Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the award winning entertainment and sports venue that has quickly become an iconic landmark at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.

A rendering is available at: http://ftp.shoparc.com/_Fw9aUC70TCdiLR

In December, FCRC and Greenland completed a definitive agreement for a joint venture to develop Atlantic Yards, a 22-acre residential and commercial real estate project in Brooklyn. The joint venture, which is expected to close in 2014, would cover both phase one and phase two of the project – excluding Barclays Center and the first housing tower, B2 – including infrastructure, a permanent MTA rail yard, a platform above the rail yard and future residential units. The closing of the agreement is subject to necessary regulatory approvals, including the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) as well as the government of China.

“Our original design for the arena had anticipated a green roof as part of our effort to achieve Silver LEED certification,” MaryAnne Gilmartin, FCRC President and CEO, said. “While we independently reached that goal, we always hoped to still create a green roof, further improving the environmental footprint of the arena and also making a more direct connection to the sedum covered transit entrance on the plaza. Thanks to Greenland, which shares our commitment to sustainable development, we now have the resources to make this dream a reality.”

Ms. Gilmartin explained that in addition to providing a more appealing roof for people visiting and living around the arena, it will also enhance the space for those who will be living in the residential buildings surrounding Barclays Center. B2, the first residential building, is currently under construction. Fifty-percent of the 363 units will be affordable. Additionally, 2,250 of the 4,500 rental units that are part of the Atlantic Yards project will be affordable. Two other residential buildings, B3 and B4, are planned for the arena block.

Ifei Chang, CEO Greenland USA Holding Companies, said "Greenland is very excited about working with FCRC on what we believe will be one of the largest and most impressive green roofs in the City and perhaps the country. We are strongly committed the environmental benefits of green roofs. But beyond that, we see this as a really strong statement to the people of Brooklyn, and really the people of the world, that Greenland is a proud partner at Atlantic Yards. We know the residents who move to Atlantic Yards will look upon it proudly and we’re hopeful that others will celebrate the greening of our great urban areas.”

The new roof will be built above the existing one, with an air gap that goes from four feet at the edge of the roof to 10 feet at the highest point. The new roof will be supported by a steel structure. Sedum trays will be arranged to create a “flocking” pattern complementary to the weathering steel exterior. The trays will be pre-fabricated for streamlined installation. In addition, the arena foundation was built to support this type of load, so minimal reinforcement is required. It is anticipated that three cranes will be needed to install the structure over a period of six months. The total duration of roof construction will take approximately nine months. FCRC will coordinate all construction activities with relevant City agencies.
(Emphases added)

They care so much about the people living around the arena that they put a big Barclays logo on the roof in 2012.


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