September 11, 2012

After Barclays Comes the Building Blocks Towers

by Dave Hogarty

Now that the Barclays Center is practically open, it's time to direct our attention behind the arena and the planned pre-fab towers that Forest City Ratner plans on building at the Atlantic Yards. The first building is a 32-story tower comprised of 930 separate modular units that will be manufactured elsewhere and assembled on site. If all goes well, that might just be the first of 15 modular-built towers, according to Crain's, with the highest one reaching 50 stories. That's tall, and almost as up in the air as the question of whether any of them will be built.


Renderings: Forest City Ratner/SHoP Architects

Related coverage...

The Real Deal, Come Christmas, Forest City will make its prefab decision at AY

The decision hinges, in part, on whether Forest City can get construction unions to accept a 25 percent pay cut to work on the project. Crain’s noted that cutting construction costs is especially important to the developer because by the time all 4,500 rental units are erected on the former rail yards, half of them must be affordable.

But with the unconventional construction technique comes unique concerns.

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

September 10, 2012

Legoland comes to Brooklyn

Decision looms on plans for world's tallest prebuilt towers in downtown Brooklyn.

Crain's NY Business
by Theresa Agovino

Here's another article for which we covered Atlantic Yards Report's coverage this weekend.

Architect Christopher Sharples knows what most people think of when they hear the term "modular construction."

"A bunch of shoeboxes sitting on top of one another," said the SHoP Architects principal.

Soon he hopes to shatter that negative stereotype in record-setting fashion. Mr. Sharples is part of a core group of 18 people brought together by Forest City Ratner to design a 32-story residential tower made up of 930 prebuilt modules containing portions of finished apartments—everything from bathrooms to kitchens—bolted to a steel frame.

It will not only be the world's tallest modular structure but likely the least uniform one as well, boasting four different façades. It will also take a prominent position next to the Barclays Center, in the developer's Atlantic Yards project in downtown Brooklyn. There it may ultimately be joined by 15 other modular apartment buildings, at least one soaring as high as 50 stories.

For starters, 60% of the construction would be done indoors in a factory where carpenters, plumbers, painters and electricians would build the modules. Meanwhile at Atlantic Yards, crews would erect the tower's steel frame. The dual tracking of construction alone could shave as much as six months off the process, saving millions of dollars.


NoLandGrab: Six months? That means Atlantic Yards might get built in 29 years, six months, rather than 30 years.

Posted by eric at 11:16 AM

September 5, 2012

Unbuilt towers and a hovercraft perspective: what's wrong with common Barclays Center rendering (plus an accurate panorama from Tracy Collins)

Atlantic Yards Report

With a project on which nothing is on the level, it's no surprise that the renderings are crooked, too.

What does the Barclays Center really look like? A common rendering from SHoP Architects (used on the official Atlantic Yards web site and an arena operations presentation) appears at right, misleading viewers with unbuilt towers and a hovercraft perspective.

The image, for example, appears on Time Out, which says:

The controversial Atlantic Yards development—stalled by eminent-domain lawsuits and recessional money woes—took nearly a decade, but finally the project's centerpiece, the 18,000-seat Barclays Center, will begin hosting events in September. Most notably, the arena will be home to the borough's first major pro sports team since the Dodgers left in 1957, when the Brooklyn Nets start the 2012–13 NBA season. Before they hit the court, team minority owner Jay-Z will christen the space with an inaugural series of concerts....

What it really looks like

Photographer Tracy Collins went to the north side of Atlantic Avenue outside the Atlantic Terminal mall and attempted to duplicate the perspective, coming up with the image below, a panorama of four photos.

What's wrong

In a discussion with Collins, we discerned several distortions in the rendering by SHoP.

First, the hovercraft effect. Collins's photo is shot at eye level, about six feet up. The rendering appears to be the work of someone standing on his shoulder. Note the height of the subway entrance.

Second, the rendering portrays the arena as far less broad than in Collins's panorama. Had he moved further east down Atlantic Avenue to Fort Greene Place to be more precise--and to line up the edge of the subway entrance with the letters R and C of "BARCLAYS," the arena would have stretched even more horizontally. It would have been wider, and the canopy would have been even more prominent. It might have been impossible to get "BARCLAYS CENTER" fully in the photo.

Third, consider that in the SHoP image, the Atlantic Center mall is roughly the same height as the arena. Collins's panorama suggests that the arena, which peaks at 137 feet, is bigger.

Fourth, take a look at the tiny automobiles along Atlantic Avenue in the rendering. The vantage point in the SHoP image is actually closer to the Atlantic Center mall on the north side of Atlantic, but the cars are far smaller than in Collins's panorama.


Panorama copyright Tracy Collins; permission required for re-use

Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

July 12, 2012

Developer Gambles on Modular High-Rise for Atlantic Yards Sports Village

Engineering News-Record
by Nadine M. Post

The Engineering News-Record appears to have devoted a good chunk of its July 16th issue to all things Atlantic Yards.

The developer of the residential towers for the $4.9-billion Atlantic Yards sports village in Brooklyn, N.Y., is hedging its bets. In case negotiations with the building trades don't work out for the first tower, planned as the world's tallest modular building, Forest City Ratner Cos. is poised to construct the 32-story high-rise the conventional way.

The Brooklyn-based developer is so hyped on modular that even if the high-rise plan does not fly, it intends to set up shop as a third-party modular building fabricator. "We think [modular] can be explosive for the business," says Robert P. Sanna, FCRC director of construction and design development.

Hopefully not as "explosive" as those manhole covers.

The high-rise modular approach is the brainchild of Bruce C. Ratner, FCRC's chairman and CEO. His scheme was born of a need to find a more economical way to deliver 6,430 units of affordable and market-rate rental housing, comprising six million sq ft in 14 buildings.

If by "brainchild" they mean "stealing the idea and all the senior staff from the company that developed the technology," then yes, it was Bruce Ratner's "brainchild."


Related stories...

Engineering News-Record, Reshaping of Barclays Center Arena Made Possible By Collaboration, Digital Tools

Opportunity knocked for SHoP Architects on July 2, 2009. On that Thursday, Bruce C. Ratner, the beleaguered developer of the controversial Atlantic Yards sports village planned for Brooklyn, N.Y., made an offer that any architect would be crazy to turn down but almost as crazy to accept.

Ratner wanted SHoP to put a better face on a critically panned redesign for his $825-million Barclays Center arena—the centerpiece of the 22-acre transit-oriented development. And he wanted a sketch from SHoP in only five days.

Yes, and Brett Yormark only sleeps three hours a night.

However, SHoP wasn't the only firm in an awkward position. In late 2008, FCRC approached EB with a dubious offer it didn't refuse. "Bruce Ratner said, 'I literally want you to take Conseco Field and place it on our site,'" says Stephen J. Duethman, the project manager in Kansas City, Mo., for EB, which, as a result of a merger, operates under AECOM's name.

That strategy was not possible, he adds. But, in 2009, EB did as little as possible to modify its Indianapolis arena so that it would fit into a tight urban site.

The total cost of the facade redesign is $54 million. "We had to make the investment for public reasons," says Sanna.

Engineering News-Record, Fancy Footwork To Steady the Course of Brooklyn's Controversial Atlantic Yards Sports Village

ENR should probably stick to engineering and steer clear of social history.

Fifteen years ago, the 22-acre plot for the $4.9-billion Atlantic Yards sports village in Brooklyn, N.Y., was an eyesore. For more than 20 years, drug dealers, gangs and prostitutes had populated the neighborhood. Many buildings were vacant. "Blighted Brooklyn" was a more fitting moniker than the familiar "Brownstone Brooklyn."

Now, crime is down, and land values are way up. Pedestrians are pushing strollers, not drugs. Brooklyn is on the map, thanks in large part to developer Bruce C. Ratner. In the late 1980s, he went where no Manhattan developer dared to go—to Brooklyn. First came an office campus called MetroTech Center (ENR 2/10/92 p. 26). Other commercial projects, which border the Atlantic Yards site, followed.

The urban pioneer's stake in the New York City borough, population 2.5 million, did not prepare him for the controversy over his most ambitious project: a public-private village set over a railyard next to the city's third-largest transit hub (ENR 3/8/04 p. 29). Foes of the Atlantic Yards plan, unveiled in 2003, often refer to Ratner by the first syllable of his name and remain outraged by the development's scale, density and architecture. Their lawsuits delayed Ratner's plan but failed to stop it.

Critics are especially appalled by the village's centerpiece: a 675,000-sq-ft arena for the National Basketball Association's Brooklyn Nets, owned in part by Ratner. Barclays Center is set to open with a Jay-Z concert on Sept. 28, five years later than first planned.

Six years, actually, but who's counting.

NoLandGrab: Norman Oder objects to the "sports village" moniker, but we think it's spot-on — especially given the complete absence of any promised housing, offices, retail or open space.

Posted by eric at 12:03 PM

June 8, 2012

The Barclays Center Makes Progress


SHoP Architects' blog praises the work being done by SHoP Architects on the Barclays Center.

The mega-panels at The Barclays Center are made up of glass and aluminum curtain wall with weathering steel latticework factory installed to the mullions. They are typically 10 feet wide and range up to 40 feet tall. The pattern is impressive on each individual panel, but it’s even more impressive as the building takes shape and the overall pattern reveals itself. Every subtle twist and turn modeled by SHoP in the weathering steel latticework comes together seamlessly as each panel is installed.


Posted by eric at 9:28 AM

June 5, 2012

How Barclays Center Got Its Look


In a March lecture just posted to YouTube, Barclays Center architect Gregg Pasquarelli describes how Bruce Ratner, under pressure from bankers, critics and the city in 2009, had to twice change plans for the arena, and at one point even took an off-the-shelf design for Indianapolis' Conseco Field House and plunked it down in the middle of Brooklyn.

It was only after the city objected to "a bit of a bait and switch" in replacing a Gehry design with a "field house", that Pasquarelli's firm, SHoP, get the commission. They came up with a new design for Barclays Center in seven weeks.

"It was a much more conservative kind of design, brick and arch, more of a field house," said Pasquarelli of the Conseco design. "So the client came to us and said, 'Could you strip the building all the way down to the steel and think about re-designing it and if you can, we'll give you seven weeks to design the entire building, detail it and cost it. (laughter) And if you can do it for less than x-delta, the project is yours. So that should take about 11 months and we said, 'No problem'' (laughter) and I hope I never have a summer like that again."


NoLandGrab: And when you give your architects seven weeks to design an arena skin, the public gets a rusting hunk of a panini presssans tasty sandwiches.

Posted by eric at 12:43 PM

April 21, 2012

Newsmaker: Vishaan Chakrabarti

Architectural Record
by Fred A. Bernstein

The "noted urban planner" is at least equal parts real estate developer.

No one has a résumé like Vishaan Chakrabarti, a planner who has darted between the public and private sectors: as a top executive at Related Companies; a director at the New York City Planning Commission; an associate partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; a transportation planner for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and, most recently, as the director of Columbia University’s Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE). In March, Chakrabarti became a partner at SHoP Architects. He will retain his position at Columbia while helping steer the Manhattan firm responsible for such projects as the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. We recently reached Chakrabarti on his cell phone.

AR: So you favor increased density?

VC: Yes, in places that are well served by the subway, like Long Island City and Downtown Brooklyn. That’s why we need projects like Atlantic Yards.

AR: Designed by SHoP!

VC: Absolutely! The SHoP plan is tremendous—it’s going to create a great new neighborhood. And the goal to build modular housing could be a game-changer. Prefabricating buildings within New York City, which is what’s really being talked about, could become an important new industry.


NoLandGrab: Frank Gehry redux? Or has Chakrabarti forgotten that there was a neighborhood there already before Bruce Ratner unleashed the bulldozers.

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

February 8, 2012

In Progress: Barclays Center / SHoP

by Karen Cilento

We have been keeping close watch on the progress of Barclays Center, SHoP’s 650,000+ stadium for Brooklyn at Atlantic Yards. The project has an interesting history as the client, Bruce Ratner, originally looked to Gehry to design an urban solution and iconic image for the 22 acre site, prior to teaming with Ellerbe Becket and SHoP. As we’ve reported earlier, SHoP’s response has developed to become a sweeping pre-fabricated volume, with a perforated latticework steel skin and a transparent ground level. Photographer Roger Edwards has shared some recent photos with us of the construction process as the building is quickly beginning to take shape.


NoLandGrab: Gorgeous!

Photo: Roger Edwards

Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

January 23, 2012

Prefab Towers at Atlantic Yards: Will They Look Good?

Forest City Ratner is going ahead with plans to create prefabricated buildings at Atlantic Yards, but can their design hold up amidst Brownstone Brooklyn?

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

Forest City Ratner and architect house SHoP are still working to make prefabricated towers a cost-saving reality at Atlantic Yards, but critics question whether prefab buildings can save money while still looking good, according to The Real Deal.

The Real Deal also believes that Brooklyn is too good for buildings that look like corners were cut in order to save money, adding, “value engineering is the besetting sin of architecture in the five boroughs.”

Design perspective notwithstanding, the idea of prefab buildings came under fire last March, when plans for modular construction at the Atlantic Yards site was announced, and local unions were livid at the loss of jobs on the site.


Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

January 19, 2012

In the Real Deal, architecture critic says meh on prefab: "perhaps not better [than Gehry design]... surely not worse"

Atlantic Yards Report

In the Real Deal, critic James Gardner asks Atlantic Yards: Can prefab be fabulous? Will the prefab tower at Atlantic Yards look like real architecture, or will it be Lego-like? and comes down toward the latter.

What he doesn't grapple with is whether, in fact, the first tower, B2 (Building 2, not “Barclays Two,” as he writes) would be prefab. It's still in question.


Posted by eric at 5:53 PM

Atlantic Yards: Can prefab be fabulous?

Will the prefab tower at Atlantic Yards look like real architecture, or will it be Lego-like?

The Real Deal
by James Gardner

How's this for a back-handed compliment: architecture critic James Gardner calls Bruce Ratner's prefab dream "not worse" than Atlantic Yards's previous Frank Gehry iterations.

The most remarkable thing — perhaps the only remarkable thing — about the recently released plans for a residential high-rise at Brooklyn’s much-debated Atlantic Yards site is not the design itself, but rather the manner in which the project will be built.

Conceived by SHoP Architects for Forest City Ratner, the building will be made up of prefabricated units constructed off-site and then assembled on the premises. The prefab component of construction should allow for considerable savings.

Aesthetically, the great question surrounding B2 is whether, when completed, it will look like real architecture, or like something that’s just rolled out of one of the recently unveiled 3-D printers.

Will this development make it possible for good architecture to be produced at bargain-basement prices — or will it prove to be the greatest gift of technology to fans of so-called value engineering? Even more than lackluster design, value engineering is the besetting sin of architecture in the five boroughs, and it produces that sinking feeling that corners were cut, and the cheapest materials were used, to save the most money.

Surely the project revealed by SHoP looks, from the initial renderings, to be far duller and more conventional — in purely formal terms — than what Gehry had proposed. However, Gehry’s project was overrated, for all the usual mid-cult reasons — adulation of fame and the tendency to associate newness with importance — attendant upon the labors of starchitects. And B2, though perhaps not better, is surely not worse.


Posted by eric at 4:52 PM

December 8, 2011

If Bruce Ratner says "it's taken us a while to get there on the architecture," why do prefab plans look like Atlantic Lots?

Atlantic Yards Report

From the New York Observer's 12/7/11 article The Mod Squad: Will Bruce Ratner Transform the Way New York Builds, or Is Prefab Another Project Too Far?:

“It’s taken us a while to get there on the architecture,” Mr. Ratner told The Observer last month on the day he unveiled his new plans for a modular approach at Atlantic Yards. “We did a lot of work to make sure it was something appropriate, in fitting in with the arena and a good reflection on Brooklyn, the city and our country.”

Oh, really?

The Atlantic Yards resemblance, and disavowal

Actually, as I reported 11/17/11, the renderings of prefab towers by SHoP (above and bottom) look a lot like the generic renderings of Atlantic Yards buildings created in May 2008 for the Municipal Art Society's Atlantic Lots plan, which aimed less to show architecture than to depict the impact of an extended fallow period.

And (as I didn't point out last month) a Forest City spokesman, speaking to the 5/5/08 New York Post, disavowed any comparison:

"If MAS thinks that this resembles our project in any way, they are not only greatly mistaken they're doing themselves and the public a great disservice," said Ratner spokesman Loren Riegelhaupt. "Frankly, this is so far from anything even remotely resembling what we are building that it's not worth commenting on further."

Riegelhaupt has since left Forest City. Otherwise he might have to eat his words.

Click the link to see the side-by-side comparison.


Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

November 29, 2011

Setting up home in Brooklyn

SHoP realises visualisation for B2 residential tower, though still lingers on finalising construction method
by Tom Aston

Designs for the 340,000 sq ft B2 building - potentially set to become the largest prefabricated modular structure to be erected - have finally been unveiled, after several setbacks had previously hindered initial progress. This release by developer Bruce C. Ratner marks the end to a fostering, in certain sectors, of doubt, over whether the project could overcome the loss of its iconic lead architect Frank Gehry.


NoLandGrab: Right. Because nothing puts an end to doubt like a bunch of renderings, right?

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

November 25, 2011


Architect's Newspaper Blog
by Branden Klayko

From the twisting titanium forms of Frank Gehry’s Miss Brooklyn to a prefabricated tower of 17 unique modules, the design of Atlantic Yards’ runs the gamut of the architectural spectrum. On November 17, Forest City Ratner and SHoP Architects confirmed rumors that the 22-acre project will house a collection of the world’s tallest prefabricated buildings, beginning with the 32-story B2 tower nestled alongside the Barclay’s Center on Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street.

SHoP chose to break down the visual mass of the building by forming three distinct stacked and set-back volumes in accordance with guidelines set out for the project by the Empire State Development Corporation. Even though the façade will be comprised of hundreds of identical pieces, Chris Sharples, principal and founder at SHoP, told AN that the tower is designed to hide its modularity. “It won’t be obvious that this is a modular building,” he said.

Once at Atlantic Yards, modules are joined at vertical steel columns on their corners and cross-bracing installed to protect against lateral and seismic forces. Even without a traditional steel frame, Sharples said the Arup-engineered building will be just as strong as any other high-rise.


NoLandGrab: And if it's not, that'll be the ultimate Atlantic Yards bait-and-switch.

Related coverage...

Construction Digital, World's Tallest Prefab Building Proposed

Prefab has long been avoided for projects over a few stories because of a lack of cross-bracing supports that allow towers to sustain the high winds and increased loads of vertical building. Designers hope to overcome these limitations with more than 900 steel chassis modules mounted on a system of steel frames, with all the connections on the exterior of the structures.

NLG: "Hope?!"

Buildipedia, SHoP Architects' Barclays Center comes to Brooklyn

Although the Plaza at the Barclays Center is surrounded on two of three sides by relentless traffic, it is being constructed without the "active edge" walls characteristic of classic piazzas. Nonetheless, it should provide a lasting foreground for the Barclays Center and is sure to be surrounded by Atlantic Yards high-rise neighbors. The Plaza is appropriately sized and intelligently located, allowing it to serve as the site for fun flea and farmer’s markets, street fairs, and the inevitable raucous victory celebrations.

NLG: Raucous celebrations are exactly what the residents living in the adjacent quiet brownstone neighborhoods are hoping for. Not.

Posted by eric at 12:19 PM

July 20, 2011

Renderings of arena interiors (by SHoP) "unveiled," though "subject to change"

Atlantic Yards Report

Promoters of the Barclays Center--um, now the Barclays Center of Brooklyn--have "unveiled" renderings of several interior spaces, "including the spectacular entrances, Main Concourse, Arena Atrium, four bars/lounges, three clubs, one restaurant, and select suites."

They're designed by SHoP, the buzzy architectural firm hired to improve the Ellerbe Becket arena. As noted the "creative renderings" are "subject to change," which surely was an important warning for those who pondered Frank Gehry's various Atlantic Yards renderings.

Two renderings (click to enlarge)

Click thru for the "official" press release.


NoLandGrab: "Spectacular?" Looks like most any other arena.

Related coverage...

NY Observer, Atlantic Yards Arena: Bars With a Chance of Basketball

The new images are even complete with stylishly dressed virtual people cheering on (presumably) the Nets in their new home.

And by the looks of these renderings there will be no shortage of alcohol in the new arena, which will house at least four bars and a court-side club. Swanky.

NY Post, Inside look at Nets new arena

It’s not "The Worlds Most Famous Arena," but it’ll certainly be New York’s most modern.

The Nets’ new Brooklyn home — set to open in September 2012 — can’t compete with Madison Square Garden’s storied history, but it will be packed with a slew of modern amenities.

Park Slope Patch, Luxe Treatment for VIPs at the Barclays Center

"The interior spaces of the Barclays Center will provide premium experiences that are reflective of a sophisticated and dynamic venue in the heart of Brooklyn," said Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark in a statement. "nothing has been spared in creating an inviting and spectacular environment to compliment the best events in sports and entertainment."

NoLandGrab: Plus the Nets!

Curbed, Fancy Chandeliers and Courtside Club for Barclays Center VIPs

SHoP principal Gregg Pasquarelli says the firm designed the Barclays interiors to focus on "bringing the energy of Brooklyn street life into the arena," using a "simple yet tactile palette of industrial materials." If you're curious what "simple yet tactile" is running these days, the Roll & Hill chandelier* pictured in the second slide above runs for $5,000 and up.

NoLandGrab: * Roll & Hill chandelier not included.

The Brooklyn Paper, Separate and unequal at the Barclays Center

Critics were nonplussed by the arena’s glitzy design.

“It’s surprising that they don’t have the money to pay for the rest of the project,” said Candace Carponter, the legal director of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, one of the groups suing the state over Atlantic Yards, “but they’re going to sell high-priced tickets to high-rollers who’ll show up in big cars and clog traffic on our streets.”

Gothamist, What The Brooklyn Nets' New Barclays Center Home Will Look Like Inside

And while the just-released renderings of the $1 billion dollar building's interiors, by the firm SHoP Architects PC, aren't exactly riveting they are...something.

WONDER at the all white VIP entrance where Russian billionaires will be able to avoid the hoi polloi. MARVEL at the earth-toned main concourse which "includes a smooth terrazzo floor reflecting the lights of a night sky above with clear directional signage to seat and suite locations." STARE at the Beers of the World bar which will never in all its days look as empty as it does in SHoP's rendering and finally OGGLE the private suites that you will never be able to visit!

The Real Deal, Nets reveal interiors of Barclays Center

The interior will use brown and gray colored lighting to achieve a "Brooklyn feel," Christopher Sharples, co-founder of the stadium's designers, SHoP Architects, said.

NLG: Feel this, Sharples!

NetsDaily, Barclays Interior Designs Released

Meanwhile, the two reigning heavyweight boxing champions, Ukrainian brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko said they were excited about the possibility of bouts at Barclays in front a big Russian crowd. "Let's do it," said Wladimir.

Posted by eric at 5:56 PM

February 10, 2011

Brooklyn arena architect to design first residential tower at Atlantic Yards

The Brooklyn Blog []
by Rich Calder

A hot Manhattan architectural firm has been tapped to design the first residential tower for Brooklyn’s long-delayed Atlantic Yards project – although officials confirmed they still lack the financing to build it.

As developer Forest City Ratner continues construction on the project’s NBA arena in the hopes of moving the Nets there by Fall 2012, company officials confirmed today that SHoP Architects would design the 400-unit building slated to go up next door at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street.

Jane Marshall, a senior VP for FCR, said during a project meeting at Borough Hall that SHoP was selected in part to ensure the new construction blends with the arena.

Marshall said she expects the residential tower design to be complete by June and hopes to break ground on it by the end of the year.

However, she said financing still isn’t secure for the tower – although the hope is that producing designs will generate interest from lenders to fund it. The rest of the project’s 16 residential and commercial towers remain on hold because of the slumping economy.

From the department of transparency and openness:

Although the press was not shut out of the meeting, the 90-minute session was not advertised as is required under the state’s Open Public Meetings Law. But Arana Hankin, who oversees the project for ESDC, claimed her agency’s lawyers “determined” Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meetings are “ad hoc committee” meetings and not subject to public meeting laws. The only reason the public knew of the meeting is because blogger Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report was tipped off about it and posted some information about it on his website. Oder, while allowed to take notes, was told he could not take video footage of the meeting when he arrived.


Posted by eric at 9:45 PM

October 3, 2010

At public meeting on arena plaza, presentation from SHoP, answers from FCR, ESDC, with video; public, inter-agency meetings coming (to be updated)

Atlantic Yards Reoprt

This is a comprehensive report (with updates coming) on this past week's meeting at Borough Hall. Complete with videos, it's almost the same as being there, except your loud cursing will not disrupt the meeting. Click on the link to get all the details.

At the public meeting held September 29 at Borough Hall regarding Forest City Ratner's plans for the arena plaza, public officials pledged to hold regular community meetings to keep community members informed of construction issues.

They also also pledged to hold inter-agency meetings to make sure governmental agencies were on top of things--though the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) new Project Manager seemed fuzzy on a previous pledge to do so.

About 70 people attended, with a good portion of them somehow officially involved, from elected officials' offices, government offices, and the developer. The event was low-key and, though it was allotted two hours, lasted only 90 minutes.

The big picture

There were a lot of good questions, and a reasonable amount of responsiveness, if not complete candor. There were several questions that were not exactly on topic--the arena plaza design--but they were addressed.


Posted by steve at 4:45 AM

September 16, 2009

SHoP 'til you drop

Curbed, Barclays Center Must Make Room for Big Buddies


Among Atlantic Yards supporters—they're out there, right?—one highlight of Frank Gehry's original design was the way the Barclays Center arena would fit in with four new towers going up right around it, including the project's centerpiece skyscraper, dubbed Miss Brooklyn. Miss Brooklyn later downsized to B1 and then vanished altogether (the new Barclays Center designs show a big pedestrian plaza at the Flatbush and Atlantic intersection), but here's a crazy thought: What happens if the economy improves? Then it's hello B1 and goodbye plaza! Don't call it a comeback?

In an interview with the Observer, SHoP's Greg Pasquarelli said the firm was "told to design a building that can stand on its own, for the short term, and a design that clearly doesn't have anything that can obstruct the rest of the plan." At a public flogging discussion last night to discuss the new Barclays Center design, the architects reiterated that the "grand urban gesture" of the arena entrance could one day have a big ol' tower on top of it, and they must accommodate that possibility. Of course, Gehry's design is long gone, so who would design B1 and the other border buildings? Pasquarelli says he'd love to give it a whirl, but after reading Justin Davidson's thorough dismantling of the firm's involvement in Atlantic Yards ("SHoP has hocked its reputation for the sake of a PR stratagem that seems unlikely to end in triumph."), he might reconsider. Go Nets?

The Brooklyn Paper, Like the new Yards arena? That’s too bad, because it will change when the economy improves

Enjoy the new renderings of the Barclays Center while you can — because if the economy gets back on track, the look of the rippling steel building will be altered radically to include new buildings, including one atop the arena’s signature entrance way.

That was the main bit of news from Monday night’s presentation by the architecture team behind developer Bruce Ratner’s proposed basketball arena at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

Other details emerged from the session:

• Of the limited retail space on the ground floor of the arena, the largest space is reserved for a team store.

• Basketball fans will still be able to see the scoreboard from the street during games, a key Gehry design.

• Advertising signage has been dramatically scaled back from Gehry’s scheme, which called for 150-foot billboards on either side of the “Urban Room.” There will be some room for LED advertising in the latticework of the building’s exterior, but Pasquarelli said it would be minor.

• The architects have signed onto Ratner’s optimistic timeline of breaking ground in December and then finishing the entire building in 26 months so that it can be of use during the 2011-12 basketball season.

A brief argument ensued after the question and answer session. The designers themselves were spirited away from reporters after the session by a spokesman for Ratner, so some members of the public took out their hostilities on Bell for omitting any questions about the development process, sticking only to design issues.

The Architect's Newspaper Blog, SHoP-ing for a Fight

SHoP’s new designs for the Barclay’s Center at Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards site has probably gotten the firm more attention than any of its previous ones, including its rather controversial plans for Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport. Today, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn penned an open-letter to the firm, calling out “Mr. Sharples, Mr. Sharples, Ms. Sharples, Ms. Holden, and Mr. Pasquarelli” for signing on to “a very contentious and troubled project that faces widespread resistance from the communities it would impact—and well beyond.” Meanwhile, “Mr. Pasquarelli” sat down with the Observer to, uh, talk shop on the project and defend his firm’s involvement in the project: “We gave serious consideration as to whether we wanted to do it. And I think the thing that convinced us was, after speaking with Bruce, we were convinced he really wanted to make a great building.”

Atlantic Yards Report, Video from session Monday with architects at Borough Hall

Here are some excerpts from the presentation Monday night at Borough Hall by Atlantic Yards arena architects Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP and Bill Crockett of Ellerbe Becket.

Even though the event was officially the second community information session promised by the Empire State Development Corporation, it was essentially a continuing education session sponsored by the AIA NY, with probably at least half the people in the room architects.

The moderator, AIA New York executive director Rick Bell, kept the discussion limited to design issues, despite the distinct desire of several people in the room to go beyond that.

Atlantic Yards Report, SHoP's path not taken in Prospect Heights: historic renovation plus new construction

[Greg Pasquarelli] also pointed to the firm's use of the computer and the renovation of Porter House in the Meatpacking District, a historic renovation topped with a new building.

Nobody made reference to the lost opportunity to renovate and build on top of the Ward Bakery and other buildings in the Atlantic Yards footprint.

Then again, Pasquarelli was there to talk about the arena only. No one was there to talk about the urban design and the project conception as a whole.

The Sports ITeam Blog (NY Daily News), Hey, Nets fans? Want a burger?

Scott Turner's newsletter for Rocky Sullivan's Pub Quiz is one of the best things to hit our inbox every week. This time around, the Brooklyn activist points out that the design for the Nets' proposed Atlantic Yards arena looks a lot like one of our favorite household appliances.

Brownstoner, Atlantic Yards Arena: Subject to Change

The biggest news from the meeting was that the current renderings will drastically change: more buildings will be added, such as the "Miss Brooklyn Tower" at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic, which, in Frank Gehry's scrapped design, was a gateway to the rest of the project. Other open plazas in the current rendering could become residential towers, but all of this is contingent on the economy.

Brownstoner, Closing Bell: DDDB's Letter to SHoP

The gist of the letter is that SHoP, by accepting the Barclays Center commission, is also attaching the firm's reputation to the Atlantic Yards and condoning the actions of Forest City Ratner: "We think that as responsible professionals, you must be aware that your designs are being used in an attempt to mask the political, planning, economic and aesthetic failures of Forest City Ratner's corrupt Atlantic Yards development proposal ... On these grounds, we urge you to reconsider your involvement. And we will be pleased to meet with you and discuss these issues."

Brit in Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards Arena: New Design in Context

NetsAreScorching, NETS ON THE NET: 9/15/09 EDITION

Posted by eric at 12:13 PM

September 15, 2009

Super models

Photographer Tracy Collins posted some photos of the new models of Bruce Ratner's new Barclays Center Nets arena design, displayed at last night's informational meeting, in the flickr Atlantic Yards Photo Pool.

Posted by lumi at 5:29 AM

September 14, 2009

SHoPing around: "Where'd we leave our ethics?"

Fans For Fair Play

FFFP's inimitable Scott M.X. Turner is most definitely not a SHoPaholic.

Here's what they came up with:

...complete with the annoying, self-absorbed architectspeak that spilled out alongside the drawings. We'll spare you the myriad pretentiousness. A little dab'll do you with this stuff:

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 that cantilevers out into a spectacular canopy at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.

What, nothing about SHoP's designs curing AIDS and getting pigs'a'flyin'? How genuine and low-key.

And how about that interview with the NY Observer?

Pasquarelli: "I like Bruce. He’s very intense. He’s very smart, and he’s dealing with a lot of things at one time, but I know his heart is really in making a fabulous design."

His heart is in beating back community opposition, steamrolling residents, gag orders on people he does business with, filching $726 million in public money for the Atlantic Yards project, abusing eminent domain, exploiting peoples' fears about affordable housing and jobs, and distoring Brooklyn's past and future as a way to do business.

Pasquarelli, on signing on to a controversial project: "We gave serious consideration as to whether we wanted to do it."

Yeah, not so much. If you had, you would've said "no." SHoP is a hot firm in architectural circles. Whatever the cost of the chaos and hits to SHoP's reputation (see Gehry, Frank, Atlantic Yards, face, egg-on), Ratner was able to pay it. Which, by the way, proves again that Ratner can throw money around when he wants, then claim poverty when he needs.


Related coverage

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, SHoP's Pasquarelli Channels Gehry's, Um, Attitude on Atlantic Yards Gig

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Tonight, 9/14: A Conversation With Ratner's New Arena Designers, SHoP Architects

A Conversation with the Architects of the Barclays Center
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Brooklyn Borough Hall, Courtroom, 2nd floor

The Empire State Development Corporation hosts a discussion on the new designs for the Barclays Center with building architects, Bill Crockett, Director of Sports Architecture at Ellerbe Beckett and Gregg Pasquarelli, Founding Partner of SHoP.

Click to RSVP, space is limited.

Posted by eric at 12:25 PM

Talking SHoP About Atlantic Yards

NY Observer
by Eliot Brown

Q&A with Bruce Ratner's latest Atlantic Yards (arena) architect, Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP.

You’ve been brought into Atlantic Yards to design the Nets arena along with the firm Ellerbe Becket. How did you get involved?

We just got a call from Bruce [Ratner, the project’s developer] one day. I think Bruce said, ‘I’d like to come visit your office. I’ve talked to a lot of people around the city, and they told me you might be the firm that could figure out a great design and figure out something that could be built, and could do it really fast.’ And so he came over, and we had a great conversation, and that’s how it started.

What’s he like to deal with?

I like Bruce. He’s very intense. He’s very smart, and he’s dealing with a lot of things at one time, but I know his heart is really in making a fabulous design.

NoLandGrab: Actually, Bruce's heart is two sizes too small.

It’s kind of odd—they used to do these really boring designs, and then suddenly with the Times building—

—Suddenly it’s Renzo, Gehry, and SHoP.

NLG: He means it was Gehry.

Is it tough being part of a project that is a target of a lot of caustic criticism?

Yeah. We gave serious consideration as to whether we wanted to do it. And I think the thing that convinced us was, after speaking with Bruce, we were convinced he really wanted to make a great building. … We showed Bruce—we didn’t hold back, we said, ‘Here’s what we want to do,’ and it was daring, and, ‘What do you think?’ And he really loved it, and was incredibly supportive and pushed us to make it as good as possible. And even knowing that the project was going to have its critics no matter what we designed, we felt like it’s our role as New Yorkers to try to make it as good as we could.

NLG: The money helped, too. Bruce also pushed them to make it as fast as possible.

Would you want to do some of the buildings around it?


NLG: What buildings?

Is it awkward to be designing a project that’s making a superblock out of something that was a grid? Urban planning is generally going the other direction.

Over a site that has that much transportation infrastructure, I think it’s the only ethical, rational, sustainable thing to do to put density, and sometimes density requires some superblocks.

NLG: Gregg Pasquarelli knows better than that. Arenas require superblocks — density does not.


Posted by eric at 11:44 AM

Basket Case

Bruce Ratner SHoPs for respectability.

TurkeyCenter.jpg NY Magazine architecture critic Justin Davidson understands why SHoP took the call from Bruce Ratner to step in and dress up the arena at Atlantic Yards, but sees the latest developments as "pointless" and allows no excuses for the firm allowing itself "to be used to gussy up a degraded project with architectural flimflam."

The latest design, by the joined forces of SHoP Architects and Ellerbe Becket, is much handsomer than the quickie renderings Ratner floated in June after dumping Frank Gehry for being too expensive. But comparing fictional arenas is beside the point by now. Atlantic Yards is too far gone to be rescued by a nice façade.

When Ratner first unveiled the Atlantic Yards project in 2003, it was to be a complex on a virtually Vatican scale, with office towers, apartment buildings, and public spaces springing from an arena—all of it designed by Gehry. Six years later, we’re left with a possible basketball court in a prairie of blight. Profound urbanistic issues—how a diffuse borough as populous as Houston would reshape itself around a new high-rise mini-metropolis, created by fiat and designed by a single architect—have given way to bickering over how to decorate a shed. SHoP’s answer to this pointless question is a clever one: Wrap it in steel basketry, evoking the photogenic “bird’s nest” stadium that Herzog & de Meuron bestowed on Beijing. It worked for China, but in Brooklyn, the bird’s nest is just another way to dress up a turkey.

Davidson incisively sums up the nearly six-year history of Atlantic Yards:

So far, though, the successive proposals have followed a very ordinary New York arc, from exhilarating master plan to plodding, piddling half-measures. Instead of the epicenter of urban transformation, Atlantic Yards has turned into a ghostly landscape without a present, only a history and a costly dream. Ratner has demolished old buildings and emptied homes, committing himself along the way to putting up affordable housing he can’t afford, luxury apartments he can’t fill, and offices he may never rent.


Atlantic Yards Report, New York Magazine critic calls AY "a degraded project with architectural flimflam", New York Mag: With Barclays Arena Design SHoP Dresses Up a Turkey

Posted by lumi at 5:33 AM

An Open Letter to SHoP Architects Regarding Atlantic Yards

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn laid out the arguments against Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards megaproject in an open letter to the partners of SHoP, the architectural firm responsible for the new designs of the new Nets arena:

Dear Mr. Sharples, Mr. Sharples, Ms. Sharples, Ms. Holden, and Mr. Pasquarelli:

We understand that your practice has been recognized widely as one of the most promising and innovative young architecture firms in New York, as well as in the United States. It is clear that you all have a real commitment to furthering your profession through your innovative approach to practice as well as through your teaching. Thus we are writing this letter of concern in response to last week's announcement that you have joined Forest City Ratner's project team for the Atlantic Yards development proposal.
We hope that as practitioners and teachers of architecture that you will hold yourselves to a higher standard as it will set an example for your students, as well as other members of your field, by choosing not to be engaged with a project with so many ethical problems. You are best known for pursuing a "third way" in architecture. But with this commission, sadly, you have chosen the wrong way.

Of course we understand that the current economy is particularly difficult for architecture firms, but please understand that many of us have sacrificed much in the past six years of opposition to this project.

On these grounds, we urge you to reconsider your involvement. And we will be pleased to meet with you and discuss these issues.

Posted by lumi at 5:11 AM

September 10, 2009

New Yards Design Draws From the Old

The NY Times
By Nicolai Ouroussoff

The architecture critic of the Times basically considers the new arena design an improvement over the post-Frank Gehry Ellerbe Becket design, but still has serious concerns about the entire "Atlantic Yards" project.


To say that the 22-acre Atlantic Yards development project in Brooklyn is in disarray is not a major revelation. That it may still be possible to save — and may even be worth saving — comes as news.
Shop has wrapped it in an appealing rust-colored steel skin, which will make it less harsh on the eye.

But it still falls short of the high architectural standards set by the design the city was originally promised. And too many questions remain unanswered about the overall plan — in particular, when and whether Mr. Ratner’s company, Forest City Ratner, will ever build the surrounding buildings, and, assuming it does, who will design them. Without them the cohesion of the original plan falls apart.


Atlantic Yards Report, NYT critic Ouroussoff gives two cheers to the new arena design: "probably the best that Mr. Ratner can do"

[B]y expressing measured approval for the design, [Ouroussoff] ignores the absence of a design for the rest of the project and the likelihood of indefinite interim surface parking and blight.

So, Forest City Ratner has to consider his review a win, since--despite the instant appellations of "clamshell," "bottle opener," and "panini maker"--the general reaction is not uniform derision., Times Critic Ouroussoff Happier With New Arena Design But Displeased With Atlantic Yards

The Times architecture critic who savaged Ratner's fifth arena design now weighs in on his sixth one and, though he thinks it is an improvement, he concludes that it doesn't cut the mustard.

Posted by lumi at 8:09 AM

12 Notable Things About the New Nets Arena Design


Following this morning's blockbuster reveal of the new architectural designs for the Barclays Center—the new Nets arena at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Aves. in Brooklyn—Curbed sat down with SHoP Architects' Gregg Pasquarelli, Ellerbe Becket's Bill Crockett and—yes—the man in black himself, Bruce Ratner, to soak in their collective new vision for an 18,000 seat arena. Herewith, observations and data points....


NoLandGrab: There's a reason that developer Bruce Ratner doesn't talk to the press much. Here's how he summed up the new arena design: "It's beautiful and cool."

Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

Atlantic Yards Report React-o-matic

Some analysis of press releases we already posted yesterday from Norman Oder's Atlantic Yards Report:

ESDC announces second public information session, focused on arena design, but after public comment period has closed

Well, the Empire State Development Corporation won't renege completely on the promise, made publicly by former CEO Marisa Lago, to hold two community information sessions.

However, the second session, to be held in conjunction with Forest City Ratner and the Center for Architecture, will be "focused on the new arena design," the ESDC said in a press release issued today.

The meeting will be held at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Monday, September 14 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm.

While the meeting might be intriguing, it's fairly meaningless. There are far more questions about the project than the arena itself and, given that the public comment period has closed, any issues raised in the session Monday can't be brought up before the ESDC board meets on September 17 to approve the plan.

Yes, Markowitz is on board (just as he was in June)

Borough President Marty Markowitz issued a statement regarding the new arena design:

“As I have said all along, Brooklyn is the greatest city in America. We’re ready to get back into professional sports’ big leagues, and this arena is going to make it happen. I am thrilled that the new design delivers not only a luminous, iconic structure that celebrates Brooklyn’s industrial heritage with its steel and glass exterior, but one that harmonizes with the architecture of the surrounding neighborhoods and creates a welcoming environment for the public at street-level.
In June, after the original architect, Frank Gehry, had been dropped for arena designer Ellerbe Becket, Markowitz declared that the new design, derided as a "hangar," was "actually better for Brooklyn."

DDDB statement on arena design: "lipstick on a corrupt pig"

Posted by lumi at 7:14 AM

September 9, 2009

Atlantic Yards SHoPping Update

Yesterday, Curbed reported that new designs for Burce Ratner's controversial publicly funded eminent-domain abusing Nets arena will be unveiled TODAY:

Well, it looks like SHoP had its T-squares out all weekend: The new arena designs will be unveiled tomorrow. Do tune in!


flickr Atlantic Yards Photo Pool, "BECKET + SHoP THY NAME IS EMINENT DOMAIN"

Neighborhood photog Tracy Collins photoSHoPped this image of the Hagan sisters' mural in the footprint of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards megaproject.

NY Daily News, Seaport architect at work on Atlantic Yards arena

From an update on the addition of the design team from SHoP that ran before the Curbed scoop:

SHoP Architects, which designed the yet-to-be-built new South Street Seaport, is working on the arena plan, Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco confirmed yesterday, while declining to comment further.
New renderings are expected to be unveiled before state officials take a final vote on the project on Sept. 17, but will come too late for borough residents to chime in with formal comments about the project.

The public comment period closed at the end of August.

News of the new firm, which also designed a flashy glass building addition for the Fashion Institute of Technology, comes as the developer is scrambling to sell $650 million in tax exempt bonds, beat back a court challenge and break ground by a Dec. 31 deadline., Ratner's Sixth Arena Design to be Released on Wednesday. The Rest of Atlantic Yards? Don't Ask.

Posted by lumi at 6:42 AM