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Massaging the green roof history: Forest City claims it's all about environmental benefits (but state document cites "noise and vibration dampening")

Update: would you believe that the New York Times published an article about how the roof attracted bees? The roof was described as an "environmentally-friendly cap," with no mention of the sound-deadening properties.

In the July/August Brooklyn issue of the business-friendly Industry magazine, we can see how the story of the Barclays Center's new green roof has been massaged into a somewhat delayed triumph, rather than a recovery from a setback.

The article at right and bottom, attributed to "Industry Staff"--likely a rewrite of a press release--is headlined "Cap and Blade: A new turf roof helps the Barclays Center take a turn for the sustainable."

The article calls the green roof one of the Barclays Center's "most talked about original design elements," without noting how this version departs significantly from the original plan, which was to enable public access.

"We always hoped to 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," claims Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin.

Well, they couldn't have "always hoped" to make a connection to that green transit entrance, because the green-covered entrance and open plaza constitute a temporary--though perhaps long lingering--stopgap in the absence of the long-planned B1 flagship office tower and Urban Room.

What was missing: the noise problem

Unmentioned in this article are two key business reasons for the green roof: enhancing views for residents of the new towers around the arena, and tamping down noise escaping from certain bass-heavy concerts.

Those are mentioned, however, in a September 2014 document from Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing/shepherding the project. Note how the green roof "shall provide the aesthetic and noise and vibration dampening benefits to the Non-Arena Occupants... and the public."

Also note that the document makes provision for a "Non-Arena Occupant"--i.e., in an adjacent tower--who believes that "modifications to the Green Roof are needed to improve the noise or vibration dampening properties," then the Arena operators should cooperate in good faith to evaluate those modifications.

Update (4/22/21)

As noted in the comment below from Lloyd Alter, adding that much steel "far outweighs the environmental benefits of any green roof, let alone this one."

I should have also noted the claimed benefits in the article:
Environmental advangages of the turf include more effective insulation, lower heating and cooling costs, smog control, and reduced stormwater runoff.
The Industry article


  1. Anonymous11:27 PM

    And I'd add that rendering resembles little the roof in reality

  2. The thing is, they essentially built a steel bridge across the whole stadium to hold this up. Or as I said in my post, The carbon footprint and embodied energy of so much steel far outweighs the environmental benefits of any green roof, let alone this one. The whole thing, from start to finish is a multimillion dollar environmental negative.


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