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Barclays Center architects roll with the criticism, discuss nicknames


The nicknames are out there, from "George Foreman's Grill" to the "Big Waffle Iron" to the less complimentary "Rust Bucket." (We've always liked "Red Square" for the obvious reasons. Do architects Gregg Pasquarelli and Chris Sharples have a favorite metaphor for their project?

"I think we like "the clam, the really angry clam," Sharples responded. The two took questions on the arena on the Brian Lehrer Show Tuesday, including some from listeners that were not so complimentary. ""Any time you push the boundaries... you expect to get a little friction, and that's exciting." Pasquarelli told one listener, "We love the fact that the building can be read in multiple ways."

Sharples explained the rationale for the rusty exterior. "We really saw this building--it had to have some attitude," said Sharples. "We really believe it had to be made out of a natural material, something that would patina... I mean, Brooklyn has attitude, it built battleships and aircraft carriers... it was a manufacturing town... we feel this building sort of responds to the history, and also looks toward the future."

Said his partner, "We felt that to do a building that's kind of painted color would make it more like a shopping mall. If we made it stainless steel, it would feel like it's in LA. If we covered it granite, it would be like a Manhattan bank. For us, it was about this mix of grit and glamor that we think Brooklyn is really about."

Back to nicknames, Lehrer asked at the end for other ideas. "We'll see what happens in the coming years, with the Nets, who are going to be a fantastic team, with current ownership," Pasquarelli said. "Maybe we'll call it--the oculus is the rim or something." "Or the Swoosh," added Sharples. (No doubt, he meant "Swish;" Nike wouldn't permit "Swoosh.")

Meanwhile, the latest architectural review of the arena, by Paul Goldberger writing for Vanity Fair, is mostly a rave. Goldberger, never a fan of MSG and Penn Plaza (he once said of it all: "there's no excuse for this") offers this comparison with the Garden. "Where the Garden is a drum, a huge, deadening cylinder, this building is full of swoops and curves."