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Atlantic Yards Arena Team Unveils Public Plaza Design

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[Renderings by SHoP Architects.]

Know what would make a great venue for the Atlantic Yards musical? The Atlantic Yards public plaza! That's right, Brooklyn's most controversial megaproject isn't all basketball arenas and skyscrapers. It also includes a 38,885-square-foot space at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, a sort of grand entrance to the Barclays Center that developer Bruce Ratner says in a press release "will quickly become one of Brooklyn’s great public spaces," at least until the B1 office building gets built.

The Plaza at the Barclays Center, like the arena itself, was designed by SHoP Architects, and features landscaping, a subway entrance, three types of pavement, seating areas for scalpers when LeBron James comes to town, in-ground lighting and the Barclays Center Oculus, which extends over the plaza and looks pretty trippy. Speaking of, is it just us or did the arena's overhang get smaller from earlier renderings? The new aerial shot makes it look a lot less like a bottle opener, which we're going to say is a good thing.

Here's everything you need to know about The Plaza at Barclays Center, except, of course, when it will funnel crowds into an arena with a winning team:

The Plaza is 38,885 square feet, 74 percent open space and 26 percent soft landscape and seating, primarily around the transit entrance that will serve as the centerpiece of the Plaza. As part of the design preparation for the plaza area, SHoP Architects conducted significant research of public space designs around the world to incorporate best practices related to movement, lighting, and sustainability. “The remarkable pedestrian pocket created by the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues is a natural transit way,” SHoP’s Gregg Pasquarelli said. “The Sedum roof transit entrance, along with the Sedum planters, will signify the importance of mass transit to this area of Brooklyn as well as to the entire City. The use of greenery will also allow for a changing, seasonal look in terms of color and an element of natural warmth in an otherwise very urban setting.”

In designing the Plaza, SHoP looked at multiple uses of the plaza, including local, commuter and fan traffic and then analyzed how these pedestrian communities interacted under different use scenarios. In addition, the architects had to incorporate into the design security and safety issues, including weight load restrictions for the area over the subway station.

“It is the diversity of movement and use that gives a public space a unique feel,” Pasquarelli said. “We wanted to capture that movement in our design features and also enhance that movement and the experience of the space by using materials that seem natural to the different parts of the plaza.”

Mr. Pasquarelli explained as well that the design features for the space offer exciting possibilities when B1, the office building slated for the tip, along with the building’s open urban room, is introduced sometime in the future.

The roof of the transit entrance, along with two-semi rings of planters that wrap around the entrance, will be planted with Sedum, a large genus of flowering plants that are known as stonecrops. The plants, which are indigenous to the northern hemisphere, will create a living, wave like ambiance and provide seasonal colors. The planters closest to the transit entrance will also include curved, Ipe seat benches. The planters, along with other benches at the periphery of the plaza, will be reinforced for security and traffic safety.

The architects designed as well three different types of pavement treatment to reflect the different use areas along the plaza: sidewalk space, a random mix of concrete pavements, and a concrete carpet that will run from the transit entrance to the arena.

In-ground lighting will also illuminate sections of the plaza, providing additional directional assistance as well as creating distinctive areas within the plaza. The Barclays Center Oculus, which will extend over a 5,660 square foot section of the plaza closest to the arena, is 117 feet by 56 feet and 36 feet from the top of the plaza paving. The Oculus will also contain a state-of-the-art display screen that can be programmed for games, events and other activities on the plaza.

“We of course want the Plaza to function well as a gateway to the Barclays Center,” Mr. Ratner said. “But it was also designed much like a park so it can be programmed for community events and diverse activities, such as a greenmarket and holiday fairs.”

· Barclays Center [barclayscenter.com]
· SHoP Architects [shoparc.com]
· Barclays Center coverage [Curbed]

Barclays Center

Atlantic Avenue at Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY