Just days after we tried to console forlorn Atlantic Yards hater Rick Moody by reminding him about all the unused empty space surrounding the boondoggle, the project's designer released these flashy new renderings showing what they have in mind. Though the Municipal Art Society had envisioned a dreary vacant lot around the Barclays Center Nets arena, it seems SHoP Architects have bigger things in mind. Like a plaza! And lush plant life native to the Northern Hemisphere. And, best of all, an Oculus. (Eat your heart out, Shelbyville.)
Wikipedia tells us an oculus is a circular or ovular window that's been a feature of Classical architecture since the 16th century (but you already knew that). According to the official press release, "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." The 38,885 square foot plaza will also feature a new transit entrance with a green roof and open space that can be used for "community programming and arena events."
The plans will be on view at a public meeting tomorrow, September 29th, from 6 to 8:00 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough Hall in the Court Room. As a primer, here's the whole press release:
Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, and SHoP Architects today released the new design for the Plaza at the Barclays Center at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.
The Plaza, which will serve as the primary entryway to the arena, integrates a new transit entrance with environmentally conscious landscaping, intimate seating areas and flexible open space that can be used for community programming and arena events. The Plaza will be sponsored by ADT, one of the founding partners of the Barclays Center.
“The Plaza at the Barclays Center will quickly become one of Brooklyn’s great public spaces,” said Bruce Ratner, Chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies. “The Plaza will create a new destination while also allowing for a smooth flow of pedestrian traffic to and from the arena as well as to the many subway lines at the Atlantic Avenue subway station. The unique transit entrance, along with the Sedum room and plantings and distinctive pavement that will create the experience of diverse walkways, will establish the Plaza as an iconic part of the larger Brooklyn landscape.”
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.”
Today the developer unveiled designs for an outdoor "public plaza” where the tower and atrium structure were promised, and told reporters at a press conference that his firm has no plans to build 15 of the 16 towers he promised to build, which would include nearly all of the "affordable” housing Ratner used to sell his plans to Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Paterson and a long list of other politicians.
"Ratner's not-so-pretty drawings of a barricaded, exhaust-enveloped plaza—including the absurd rendered fantasy of a traffic-less Atlantic and Flatbush intersection—is not the Atlantic Yards news of the day. The news of day, which is not surprising but is very troubling, is that Bruce Ratner admitted that he has no plans whatsoever to build the affordable housing he promised or the office tower he promised. It is crystal clear that Atlantic Yards is nothing but a scam, a money-losing arena, surrounded by massive parking lots, in the middle of a housing and unemployment crisis,” said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn co-founder Daniel Goldstein.