New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman waited to review the Barclays Center until it opened and he could check it out in action. The verdict: He likes the building, but not its awful street and mall surroundings or the future plans for towers around it. He said:
SHoP has also spared Brooklyn another retro stadium. The architects have created something tougher, more textured and compelling, an anti-Manhattan monument, not clad in glass or titanium but muscular and progressive like its borough. On the street the Ellerbe Becket design would have looked like a depressing echo of the faux-historical shopping mall across Atlantic Avenue, another Forest City Ratner project. It’s not meant as faint praise to say that by cloaking it, SHoP has averted a civic blight on a scale of Madison Square Garden.
However, he continued, the development underscores how the city goes around planning backward, “trying to eke public benefits from private interests awarded public subsidies and too much leeway.” What is needed: A link for the conflicting street grids of the abutting neighborhoods, more schools and public services, more pedestrian-friendly avenues and finer-grained architecture that is less monolithic at street level, and an upgrade of the Forest City Ratner-built Atlantic Center Mall across the street that will open up the shops to the street.
It’s not too late to hold Mr. Ratner, the city and the state to their word about creating jobs and building the promised number and type of subsidized apartments for low- and moderate-income Brooklyn families. Then the remainder of the project, which promises next to nothing for the public realm, ought to be sent back to the drawing board, so that, should it go forward, it could still include density (density is good) but also much smarter streets, different scales of development and diverse public services.
So maybe the arena could be the start of something good, he concludes. What do you think?
An Arena as Tough as Brooklyn. But Street Smart? [NY Times]
Times Critic Salutes Barclays [AYR]
Photo by Kuyata