Like many large urban development projects, Barclays and the $4.9 billion mixed use development of which it is a part, have been fraught with challenges among them neighbourhood opposition, a downturn in economy and most recently a change of architects from the iconic shape maker Frank Gehry to the current team. While some, like the New York Times architecture critic Niccolai Ouroussoff, have expressed concern that the new building would not have the architectural gravitas of the Gehry design, SHoP stepped into big shoes and with a greatly reduced budget took on the challenge of designing an arena that would be an exciting sports venue and a good fit for the neighbourhood.
SHoP’s design builds on the architectural traditions of Brooklyn, its brownstones and its industrial past, in its materiality and uses multiple scales to give the building legibility on the skyline, in the neighborhood and on the street. The building’s first setback, the middle band of glass, relates to the four and five storey buildings around it. Its permeability, which will allow people to see inside the arena and in fact inside the bowl, is intended to generate excitement at the street. Wrapping the building’s exterior is a metal scrim of weathered steel that will patina to a rich chocolate or eggplant colour and will be lit from behind producing a warm glow at night. To activate the streetscape, the building will have retail on the ground level that will be accessible from the street when games are not scheduled.
The $800 million Barclays Center will contain 18,000 seats, 104 suites, two public concourses and a premium restaurant.