ATLANTIC AVENUE ATROCITY: EVEN WORSE THAN SUSPECTED
from Bloomberg.com's Architecture Critic James Russell:
The project has already changed drastically for the worse. It was once a glittering Gehry blueprint that would have covered the rail yards with a glass-walled arena and sprouted 16 towers wrapped in fluttering ribbons of metal and glass.
As the climate for property development went frigid, Ratner dumped Gehry and brought in a sports-design specialist, the San Francisco office of architect/engineer Ellerbe Becket Co., which was recently bought by design giant AECOM Technology Corp.
When images of the revised arena project -- a bloated, brown airplane hangar -- were greeted with revulsion, Forest City Ratner disavowed them. The developer hastily married Manhattan-based SHoP Architects with Ellerbe Becket. SHoP wrapped the brown blight in a pelt the color of rusting steel. The gambit got the arena cost down to $800 million from $1 billion, according to Forest City Ratner.
The result still smacks of hack expediency. One of SHoP’s overlapping metal bands thins as it arches into a broad porch over a bleak plaza, where Gehry had planned to build a high, glass-walled public space. Instead we would have a toad hunkering at one of the most important intersections in Brooklyn, that of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.
Fans would stand soaking on the plaza on rainy days. The broad cineplex-look entry awkwardly squeezes into a much tighter gathering space and concourse. The secondary entrances have shrunk to the size of subway holes.
The spacious yet largely useless plaza and the beaklike porch occupy land slated in the Gehry plan for an iconic commercial tower once dubbed Miss Brooklyn. Ratner has promised the tower will be built. That means lopping off the beak, which would destroy what little integrity the design possesses.