Skip to main content

Barclays Center architects on WNYC: "Any time you push the boundaries... you expect to get a little friction"

WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show today offered Barclays Center Architects:
The new Nets arena in Brooklyn is drawing a range of reviews. Architects Gregg Pasquarelli and Chris Sharples of SHoP discuss their design of the Barclays Center and how it fared on its first weekend open for business.
"Let's keep our conversation to the arena's design," Lehrer said, and callers did so, though commenters on the web site added extensive (and negative) comments about the overall project.

Callers, however, were mixed, with one--surely warming the architects' heart--saying he opposed the project but found himself liking the building.

What's the metaphor?

Lehrer, noting that people have linked the arena to a whale, or a George Foreman Grill, asked what they thought.

"I think we like "the clam, the really angry clam," Sharples responded.

"You have to think about how you break down the scale," Pasquarelli elaborated. "We're excited it's a cutting edge piece of architecture that's getting people talking about buildings." (This sounded like a bit of a mantra.)

Competing reviews

Lehrer cited Alexandra Lange's New Yorker review that called the arena "an alien presence" and Justin Davidson's New York magazine review that said "the arena lies relatively low on the skyline." How to  explain that?

"Any time you push the boundaries... you expect to get a little friction," Pasquarelli responded, "and that's exciting. We love the fact that the building can be read in multiple ways."

Rust = neglect?

The first caller said he didn't mind the building's size and color, but suggested the rust evokes decay and neglect."

"We really saw this building--it had to have some attitude," Sharples said. "We really believe it had to be made out of a natural material, something that would patina... I mean, Brooklyn has attitude, it built battleships and aircraft carriers... it was a manufacturing town... we feel this building sort of responds to the history, and also looks toward the future."

And also relies on land where renovated industrial buildings were demolished.

"It's already pre-rusted," Pasquarelli added. "We felt that to do a building that's kind of painted color would make it more like a shopping mall. If we made it stainless steel, it would feel like it's in LA. If we covered it granite, it would be like a Manhattan bank. For us, it was about this mix of grit and glamor that we think Brooklyn is really about."

Feeling of pride

A caller, "Nick in Windsor Terrace," described himself as "deeply, deeply opposed to the whole thing, still am, probably won't buy a ticket for a long while. I thought it was ugly... other night, I saw it all lit up... and I got it, and felt this weird sense of pride having it in my neighborhood."

Not quite his neighborhood, but everyone's allowed their feelings.

"Well, that's really exciting to us," Pasquarelli said. "We feel like it's going to continue engage the neighborhood.. as the housing built, I think the entire city will understand how it works as a composition, where you'll have retail around the block, residential--it will really come to life.""

Working as an ensemble

Michael D. D. White asked how much of roof is expected to remain if and when the residential buildings are built.

"There are residential building that will go around the arena. In a way, they became the backdrop, and the first one... is going to start in December," Sharples said.

"It remains to be seen... how many buildings and what scale actually will end up.. how much of design of the building has to do with what you expected to be coming rather than what's already there.?"

"The original design, the Frank Gehry plan, integrated the arena into the base of four buildings," Pasquarelli responded. "When they couldn't finance those buildings... the design had to change to a standalone structure... So we worked very closely with AECOM.. did all the exterior, and all the interior design, working in conjunction with them... it was about making the transition from a building that was completely hidden to a standalone object, with the composition of the three residential buildings as the backdrop buildings behind it... the facade you see now, the halo, the bands, they will remain when the residential buildings go in, and you will always be able to see them, but the composition will change."

The inside

Lehrer asked if the architects were constrained by commercial demands such as luxury boxes, vendors, and Jay-Z's 40/40 club

"We didn't feel we were constrained at all," Sharples responded. "What was really important to us is... the way it connects itself to the streets itself... when you come out of the transit hub, you can see right into the building, into the bowl, and see the scoreboard... we wanted that direct connection between the pedestrian on the street right into the main concourses."

Lehrer asked about the bathroom ratio. Sharples confirmed there are "more bathroom fixtures in the women's rooms than men's rooms."

The sidewalk and the street

Another caller cited "a tremendous amount of activity" outside the VIP section on the Atlantic Avenue site, and suggested the sidewalks couldn't accommodate it.

Lehrer then cited reports that, after the concert,  the flood of people headed across the street forced police to shut down Atlantic Avenue for ten minutes. "Are there problems with sidewalk design overall?"

"No," responded Sharples, ignoring the second question. "The goal was to privilege the main entry to the plaza. That's why we pushed the VIP entrance to the side. The other thing that's important, what separates VIP from the main lobby is the practice court... so people from the street can look in and see that.

Closing: nickname

"Lots of stadiums have cool nicknames," Lehrer said. "Have you thought about a nickname, maybe the Big Debit Card or the Foreman on Flatbush?"

"We'll see what happens in the coming years, with the Nets, who are going to be a fantastic team, with current ownership," Pasquarelli said. "Maybe we'll call it--the oculus is the rim."

"Or the Swoosh," added Sharples.

Added one commenter: Libor Center; Greed Center; Should Have Built on My Mall Center; $300 "affordable housing" tickets for Barbra; The House that Our Subsidies Built; 99 Problems and the 47% Gets all of 'em.

Unanswered questions

One commenter asked:
Could you please ask the architects about the Barclay logo and name on their building. Did they have a say on how and where it would be placed?
I posted a comment:
What do the architects think about the mid-block Atlantic Avenue exit, which has led to crowds spilling into Atlantic Avenue after events and crossing in the middle of the street, forcing police to shut down the street for 10 minutes or so.
Was that crowd behavior anticipated? Should there be a new crosswalk/light? Any other fix? What about after weekend afternoon events, when traffic is heavier and traffic diversion more problematic.?


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 + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in February 2018, 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--but not yet approved--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…

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…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).


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…