Skip to main content

Barclays Center mystery meditation room gets spruced up, but mostly ignored; dedication coming tomorrow

Meditation Room, Oct. 2012
The Barclays Center meditation room has gotten an upgrade and, after nearly 18 months, is having an official opening. (Update: News12 offered a report.)

When I went to visit 10/15/12, just weeks after the arena opened, it was essentially used to store chairs and wheelchairs (left), with no signage inside or out.

Med. Room, Feb. 2014
Now, the meditation room--agreed to as part of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)--does have an exterior sign, messages on the wall (Love, Faith, Joy, Forgive, Rejoice, Peace) inside, and more comfortable seating.

It does make more of a meditative design.

Then again, the Meditation Room does not appear in the Barclays Center's online A-Z guide nor the pocket-sized Arena Guest Guide patrons can pick up.

No wonder I didn't seen anyone use it in two visits to the arena last month.

In both cases, the room--about 150 square feet--was locked; in one, it was dark.

Official dedication March 11

The official, invitation-only dedication is tomorrow, March 11.

According to the invitation posted online, it's hosted by Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner and the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, founding chair of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), one of the few CBA signatories that's active.

According to the DBNA:
The DBNA Meditation Room is the first of its kind to exist in any Arena in America! It is a peaceful oasis located inside of the bustle of Barclays Center that may be scheduled as a meeting space or used as a place of quiet reflection during your visit to Barclays Center.
The House of The Lord Church held an unofficial dedication ceremony of the DBNA Meditation Room in October 2013.
That date was presumably after the room was spruced up. The Rev. Daughtry has written:
Originally, we called this a chapel. Because the critics kicked up such a furor, we decided to name it a meditation room. We wanted to emphasize the values that we believe in. Significantly, I am told that it is the first in all of the arenas built in the country.
In a 4/2/10 Brooklyn Paper article, he recognized a larger issue, acknowledging, "I got plastered for that. You can’t use public funds for religious purposes."

(The arena is publicly owned--a fig leaf to enable tax-exempt financing--but leased for virtually nothing to an operating company co-owned by affiliates of Forest City Ratner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.)

Structured programs and services?

What's the room for? The CBA states, under the section regarding the DBNA:
EMS room is next to closed, dark Meditation Room, 2/14
(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.
It's not clear what "structured programs and services" are, as the Project Implementation Plan has never been released.

Nor has the developer hired the promised Independent Compliance Monitor, which Daughtry has said was one of the conditions for his support. That monitor presumably would report back on implementation.

But there are some rules. You can't visit outside of an event, unless you make special arrangements, which may include payment. According to the Meditation Room Guidelines (below), posted outside the door:
  • The Meditation Room shall be used only during public events, is accessible at the time of general doors opening, and no time before... Any requests outside of this time must be made with our Community Affairs Department and may incur labor and rental fees
  • The Meditation Room will close shortly after the conclusion of the event
  • Click to enlarge
  • The Meditation Room will be available upon request to any guest by visiting the Guest Services Center located next to the Meditation Room and requesting for the room to be opened
  • Users must participate in the 'private silence' environment promoted in the Meditation Room
  • The Meditation Room cannot be reserved
Trying to visit

During the LIU-St. Francis College basketball game on 2/16/14, the room was locked and dark. I asked at the nearby Guest Services Center about getting inside.

A staffer cordially exited the center and tried to open the door. Her key didn't work.

She called for a supervisor. It took about eight minutes for him to arrive, but he cordially opened the door.

I went inside, meditated for a little while, then shot the video below.



Lost in translation?

Below is the take from one fan, who surely doesn't know the history.
Below is the view of the Meditation Room through the door's window, shot earlier in February, during a Nets game.

Comments

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…

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 Matzav.com 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…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

For Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting Sept. 19, another bare-bones agenda (green wall?)

A message from Empire State Development (ESD) reminds us that the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting--which aims to update community members on construction and other issues--will be held:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 The typically bare-bones, agenda, below, tells us nothing about the content of the presentation. One thing to look for is any hint of plans to start a new building on the southeast block of the project by the end of the year.

If not, ESD is supposed to re-evaluate a longstanding request from project neighbors to move back a giant wall encroaching on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. It's said to enclose construction activity, but, in recent months, has significantly served to protect worker parking.

Also, by the way, if you search for Atlantic Yards on Google or the ESD website, it leads to this page for the Atlantic Ya…