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Barclays Center: Wooing critics with great architecture

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Alex Trautwig

Karrie Jacobs of Metropolis Magazine has long been a critic of Bruce Ratner's plan for Atlantic Yards, the 22-acre, 16-tower plan for Atlantic and Flatbush avenues in Brooklyn, but with the opening of Barclays Center, she's having a change of heart...sort of.

Jacobs still laments the "tower-in-the-park" motif of the overall $5 billion plan, but she loves what SHoP Architects have done with Barclays Center, the latest in a lengthening line of critics who've done the same. Of Barclays Center, she writes:

It is pointedly un-shiny. The color of the weathered steel can be read as a nod to the surrounding brownstone neighborhoods without being in any way historicist. Big windows will let passersby see what’s going on inside and the overall shape of the building is soft, rounded but not rigid; it’s not a Madison Square Garden–style hatbox. There’s a generous plaza out front, which, if properly furnished and activated, could turn a deeply unpleasant stretch of Flatbush Avenue into a tolerable place. The front of the arena is designated by a big canopy with an elongated hole in it that SHoP partner Gregg Pasquarelli refers to as an "oculus." On the inside rim of this hoop, moving digital messages swoop around.

Jacobs asks if SHoP can get its hands on the master plan for the rest of the site. In fact, it has and is working on re-shaping the original master plan laid out by Frank Gehry.