Skip to main content

Arena subway access without the Urban Room? ESDC says it's OK

I suggested yesterday that, unless certain parts of the flagship tower Miss Brooklyn (aka Building 1) are completed, the Atlantic Yards arena would open without the Urban Room, the glass-clad atrium that would serve as a combination building lobby, arena entrance, subway entrance, retail/restaurant space, and public gathering space, not to mention surfaces for signage and lighting.

On second thought, it looks impossible that the Urban Room could be completed separately from Miss Brooklyn. And the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), while touting the Urban Room as "a significant public amenity" in the General Project Plan it approved 12/8/06, some ten months later, in the State Funding Agreement that recently surfaced, changed its tune.

The agreement requires developer Forest City Ratner only to provide "subway station access" to the arena, not the Urban Room "destination" (a term from the Final Environmental Impact Statement, or FEIS) that wowed some architecture critics.

The ESDC states, in the Project Description chapter of the FEIS: The glass-enclosed Urban Room would be located at the base of [Miss Brooklyn].

New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp, in his 12/11/03 rave review, embraced the concept:
There is also an "urban room," a soaring Piranesian space, which provides access to the stadium and a grand lobby for the tallest of the office towers.

(Images from Atlantic Yards web site.)

Arena without Urban Room

Developer Forest City Ratner now intends to open a residential building along with the arena, as reported yesterday. A look at the renderings confirms that it would be very difficult to build just the Urban Room. New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff, in his 3/21/08 lament about changes in the project, leaving just the arena as a priority, observed:
The atrium, once a vital public space, will be reduced to a barren strip of pavement.

In this week's Brooklyn Paper, project critic (especially on security issues) Alan Rosner points out in a letter that if the Urban Room is to be built without Miss Brooklyn, "Bruce Ratner will have some major redesign costs." It would be less costly, Rosner writes--and far more likely, I conclude--to wait until the tower is built.

However, Rosner suggests that, in the absence of the Urban Room, there won't be a place for crowds of pedestrians exiting from the new subway station: "The silence suggests that neither the ESDC nor Ratner are concerned." Why the ESDC agreed to this might be aired at an upcoming hearing of an Assembly oversight committee. (The rest of Phase I is supposed to be built within dozen years, which means that the Urban Room should ultimately be built.)

Initial promise

An initial fact sheet about the project promised both that Miss Brooklyn would not block the Williamsburgh Savings Bank--not true, it turned out--and that the Urban Room would be the entrance to the transit hub:
The northernmost building on the site, an office building, will be set back slightly from the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, to maintain the view corridor to the Williamsburg Bank building. The point of this triangle will become part of an “urban room,” a new exterior space formed by raising the office building on pilotis (a term coined by famed architect Le Corbusier, pilotis are columnar structures designed to raise the mass of a building off the ground).
Travelers will enter or exit the transportation hub as well as the Arena and the northernmost office building through the urban room, which will also contain retail shops.

Design Guidelines

Part 1 of the Design Guidelines, part of the ESDC's General Project Plan (GPP), indicates that one of the principal entrances to Building 1, including the office component and hotel component would be via the Urban Room. (The hotel component appears to be shelved for now.)

Part 3 of the guidelines provides an architectural drawing (right), which shows the Urban Room integrally connected to Building 1.

Much praise

The ESDC, in its Final Scope of Analysis, a prelude to the environmental review, called it a "grand civic space."

The ESDC's FEIS, in the Project Description chapter, offers an impressive portrait:
A prominent feature of the pedestrian experience on the arena block is the “Urban Room,” which would be located at the southeast corner of Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue at the base of Building 1 (see Figure 1-6). The “Urban Room,” would consist of a large, at least 10,000-sf publicly accessible atrium that would serve as a dramatic gateway to the arena and provide a place for people to congregate. The Urban Room would serve multiple purposes depending on the time of day and the activities taking place. On weekday mornings, the Urban Room would serve as the principal access to mass transit for the neighborhoods to the south, east, and west of Atlantic Avenue. On evenings and weekends (and when there are no arena events), the Urban Room would be activated by the restaurant on the second level mezzanine and the hotel uses. Thus, this glass-enclosed space is expected to serve as an entrance to the office space and hotel in Building 1, the restaurant and cafe, the arena (its ticket booths would be located here), and a new access point to the subway via an underground connection. There would be approximately 10,000 square feet of space that would be available for the public. The Urban Room would serve as its own destination when programmed with small concerts, cultural events, art shows, and readings that would be open to the public. Within the Urban Room, a cafĂ© would be centrally located on the street level for ease of access for pedestrians going to and from the subway and the street during both event and non-event periods. The second level mezzanine of the Urban Room would be accessed externally by a grand stoop at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues or internally by a stair and an elevator.

(Figure 1-6 is the second rendering above)

State Funding Agreement

Part 33 of the State Funding Agreement (right) simply states: Developer shall be required to provide reasonable assurances... that the new subway station access that will adjoin the Arena will be completed an operational at the time the Arena is opened for operation.

That says nothing about the Urban Room. So, for the first year(s) of arena operations, maybe there would be a temporary above-ground facility--an Urban Shed?--linking to subway access.

That's not ideal for Forest City Ratner; the Urban Room would be a billboard for advertising, as well. However, the sponsorship deals for the Barclays Center, coupled with the current major losses at the Izod Center in New Jersey, make a Nets move to Brooklyn far more fiscally important to the developer than the presence or absence of the Urban Room.

GPP on subway connection

The ESDC's GPP states that the project would include a "subway connection on the south side of Atlantic Avenue... with sufficient capacity to accommodate fans entering or leaving and event at the Arena."

The GPP also praises the Urban Room, calling it
a significant public amenity comprised of a large, glass-enclosed public space, providing access to the subway station, the Arena and Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. This space would accommodate the major flows of people to and from the subway system during the day and night, serve as a direct subway entrance to the Arena and allow for a variety of public uses and programmed events throughout the year.... Building 1 would provide a significant new subway entrance from the Urban Room and the street that would directly serve the Arena, commercial office space, hotel, and new residential uses.

But without Miss Brooklyn, it looks like there's no room for the Urban Room.


Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.


The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…