Following this morning's blockbuster reveal of the new architectural designs for the Barclays Center—the new Nets arena at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Aves. in Brooklyn—Curbed sat down with SHoP Architects' Gregg Pasquarelli, Ellerbe Becket's Bill Crockett and—yes—the man in black himself, Bruce Ratner, to soak in their collective new vision for an 18,000 seat arena. Herewith, observations and data points:
1) Neighborhoods. That's a major talking point of this new design. Well, engagement with the neighborhood, to be more specific—an obvious response to the critics of the now-discarded Frank Gehry arena design. Says Pasquarelli, "It's about sidewalk scale, neighborhood scale, and urban scale. The three horizontal bands read at those scales—that's the idea behind them."
2) Not in the Talking Points I: Pasquarelli: "It's a big building."
3) Other details: Among the six clubs and restaurant spaces, the standout is a huge restaurant/club on the second floor—with, yes, chefs tables. Don't expect Citi Field-style grub, though: concessions will be handled by the Levy Brothers, who are no doubt competent at the task given the numerous arenas they supply food to, but it's hard to get too excited about what they offer, at, say, Conseco Fieldhouse. ("Get up and try our fan-tastic 'mini-restaurants' that offer unique, convenient walk-up dining options from Ultimate Nachos to Bacon Cheddar Burgers.")
4) So, yeah, putting aside the obvious and still very much relevant question of whether the arena is actually going to get built, or whether it even should—and noting here arena opponents Develop Don't Destroy's amusing putdown of the new design as "lipstick on a corrupt pig, window-dressing on a boondoggle"—this looks to be a very cool place to attend a sporting event or rock-and-roll extravaganza. There's a throwback fieldhouse vibe to the arena's interior; the upper tier is very much an "up in the rafters" experience in the making. No surprise on that: Ellerbe Becket's Crockett designed the Indiana Pacers' Conseco Fieldhouse. The center of the arena bowl, and the overhead scoreboard, are both visible from street level without setting foot inside the building, which continues the open feel noted at both the new Yankees and Mets stadiums.
5) More datapoints: 18,000 seats for basketball games; up to 19,000 seats for concerts. Also: 100 luxury suites, including 16 Brownstone Suites (16 seats each), 67 loft suites (10 seats each), 11 courtside suites, four club suites, and two party suites. Suite!
6) Obligatory wacky design touch: a sunken practice basketball court, visible from the arena's main entrance area as well as the plaza outside. Will the team actually practice on the court? Ratner tells us they will.
7) Brandtastic! From the PR materials: "Partners will be featured prominently in distinct branded 'neighborhoods' such as the ADT Plaza, the Cushman & Wakefield Theater, the EmblemHealth entrance, the IZOD-Nets Team Store, the MGM Grand @ Foxwoods Bar, the MetroPCS Pavilion, the Jones Soda Shoppe, and the Brownstoner.com Brownstone Suites." Okay, we made that last one up. But only that last one.
8) Hey anyway so like how did those trendy architects at SHoP come to be involved in the project—an involvement, by the way, that started back in June? It seems it had a little something to do with architect David Childs, who recommended the firm, according to Ratner.
9) Not in the Talking Points II: Pasquarelli: "I don't root for any team that rhymes with the word 'pets'."
10) Amusing: the execution of all new renderings with only the mere ghostly whisp of the other giant projects slated for the site.
11) Oh, what the hell. We love us some more Gregg Pasquarelli: "The building will change from day to night. Literally, the skin is responding to the program inside. It becomes more transparent when it needs to be, with lightness and form embedded in it. The skin [of the building] sits several feet away from the weather enclosure of the stadium. At night, when lit from inside, it will glow. In day, it switches, and the slots become the dark shadows... Usually, with arenas, you get this taught skin on the outside, but here it's punctures. I don't want to be cheesy and say it's like brownstones with their punctured windows, but it is."
12) Timeline: the goal is to break ground by year's end. If they do that, Ratner says construction will take 26 months, readying the arena for the 2011-2012 NBA season. And, Mr. Ratner, would you care to sum up your take on the new design? "It's beautiful and cool." And how about the project itself, is it really going to happen? [dramatic pause, then with force:] "It's going to happen." We shall see.