We know a lot of things about the exterior of the new Barclay’s Arena: that it was designed by SHoP Architects, that its rusty shell is no accident, but the result of a labor-intensive process to produce what is known as “weathering steel,” and that no matter what it looks like, the arena’s very existence will invariably cause some Brooklynites’ faces to contort with pain.
But what do New Yorkers—aside from the question of eminent domain and the as-yet unbuilt affordable housing component and the hordes of drunken tourists expected to start puking behind parked cars any day now, and all the other things that can cloud one’s vision—think about the aesthetics of the place? The New York Times, in one of its charming, “ask the readers” segments, has compiled the best answers.
Among the most evocative descriptions were comparisons to things found in the animal kingdom, “a rotting turtle,” “a burping clam,” “a toad sticking out its tongue” and “a rusty alligator skull with a pronounced underbite.” Note that none are particularly complimentary.
Some people did have some sort of nice things to say about the arena’s looks, calling it “a grilled cheese sandwich,” a hell of a lot better than a ditch full of LIRR trains” and “in fifty years, if it is still standing, it will be called ‘Iconic.’” Possibly the descriptor “Richard Serra meets McDonald’s” could be said to fall into this category as well. If you focus on the Richard Serra half of the equation.
Of course, this wouldn’t be Atlantic Yards if at least some of the responses didn’t tackle the circumstances of the arena’s birth, like one readers’ bitter bon mot: “corrupt corporate design trying desperately to look hip.”
Our personal favorite was koan-like: “It looks like the center of a Barclay.”