NYT Architecture Critic: Barclays Is “Anti-Manhattan Monument”

Posted on: October 31st, 2012 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman reviews the Barclays Center, as well as the arena's context in Brooklyn:

No, this isn’t a beautiful or ingratiating building, but it’s technologically smart, with an underground turntable for trucks that may sound eye-rollingly dull but makes traffic engineers like the city’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, swoon because it reduces the number of backing up and double-parked 16-wheelers on nearby streets like Dean.

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.

And if it’s a stretch to claim that the unevenly colored panels mimic the disparate colors of neighborhood brownstones, it is true that the undulating way they wrap around the building — a little like marbling in aged beef, is how Gregg Pasquarelli, a partner at SHoP, likes to put it — makes the building look almost elastic (again, the antithesis of the stolid Garden) and as low-slung as an architectural behemoth like this can be.

Read more: An Arena as Tough as Brooklyn. But Street Smart?