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BREAKING: New Atlantic Yards Arena Design Revealed

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After getting taken to the woodshed for booting Frank Gehry off his controversial Atlantic Yards project and replacing Gehry's Barclays Center arena design with a cut-rate airplane hangar, developer Bruce Ratner told everybody to just wait one doggone minute before they judged the future home (maybe?) of the New Jersey Brooklyn Nets. Word leaked last week that Ratner had added Manhattan avant-gardists SHoP to the design team, and now the fruits of that collaboration with Midwest architecture firm Ellerbe Becket have been unveiled. So, uh, what the hell are we looking at for the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic?

The renderings and plans are available on the new Barclays Center website, now scrubbed free of Gehry's celebrated but ultimately doomed plans. Here's a bit of the design statement from the press release (warning: PDF):

The building consists of three separate but woven bands. The first engages the ground where the weathered steel exterior rises and lowers to create a sense of visual transparency, transitioning into a grand civic gesture the cantilevers out into a spectacular canopy at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. The canopy, which is 30 feet above ground level, contains an oculus that frames the pedestrian's view of the arena. The second, a glass band, allows for views from inside and outside the arena. The third band floats around the roof of the Barclays Center and varies in transparency, the weathered steel creating backlit patterns. The woven band of the canopy will flow out over the arena entrance, creating a seamless visual transition and helping to frame a large viewing portal into the seating area. The main concourse is placed right at street level, allowing a direct view to and from the street. Large areas of glass at street level make it not only pedestrian-friendly, but also encourages a strong visual connection to the surrounding urban neighborhood.

Phew, now we get it! That's a lot of archibabble for a hoops court?granted, one that will seat 18,000 on game days?but we have to agree with Bruce Ratner's assessment that it's a "bold architectural statement." The weathered steel of the arena's skin looks a bit like a basketball, no? We await the catchy nicknames, but already we see Atlantic Yards opponents calling this the "Air Ball." Here's a brief history lesson on how the Barclays Center design has changed over the past couple years as the Atlantic Yards project has struggled to get off the ground.

An early Frank Gehry arena model, with lots of glass to make poor people jealous that they can't afford Nets tickets. If, uh, the Nets were anything to be jealous about. This is before Gehry's design got value-engineered to hell. Rooftop walkway!

A late-stage Gehry scheme when he was still clinging on as the architect for all Atlantic Yards. Those were the days.

The first Ellerbe Becket rendering that leaked in the post-Gehry era, which was said by Ratner to be just an early mock-up. Spraking of mocked, it was, greatly. This design looks like it was based on Ellerbe Becket's Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
· Barclays Center [barclayscenter.com]
· Atlantic Yards coverage [Curbed]

UPDATE: We've filed 12 observations from out sit-down with the arena team this morning.

Barclays Center

Atlantic Avenue at Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY