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09.30.2010
New Front Yard for Atlantic Yards
SHoP unveils design for temporary plaza outside Barclays Center arena
The plaza is designed to accommodate a crisscrossing flow of pedestrians, including commuters headed into a new, green-roofed entrance to the Atlantic Transit Terminal Hub.
Courtesy SHoP Architects

While designs for the Barclays Center arena at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards have been public for a year, only on Tuesday did SHoP Architects and Forest City Ratner Companies release their plans for the temporary plaza that will become the project’s initial public calling card. A nearly 39,000-square-foot triangular shape formed by the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, the plaza consists of a wide swath of open space, punctuated by a green-roofed entrance to the Atlantic Terminal Transit Hub, and two semicircles of planters inlaid with wooden benches at the plaza’s tip.

SHoP founding principal Gregg Pasquarelli explained that the space is designed to accommodate three primary types of circulation patterns: Commuters coming from the surrounding neighborhood to the transit center entrance, fans headed into the arena, and pedestrians cutting across the plaza between Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.


As seen from Flatbush Avenue, the plaza is ringed by planters at its tip, creating a semi-enclosed seating area.

“We tried to make the patterning of the pavement reflect circulation patterns,” Pasquarelli said, with the tightness of the concrete pavers reflecting the heaviness of expected foot traffic. Clusters of lights embedded in the paving will allow the plaza to be unobstructed by floodlights, which would also have affected the surrounding neighborhood, Pasquarelli said.

Toward the center of the plaza, the pavement extends upward to form a roof for the entrance to the transit hub. The roof will be planted with sedum, a hardy genus of flowering succulents, which SHoP predicts will complement the weathered steel on the arena’s facade. Unlike the Lincoln Center lawn, this one is strictly ornamental: A railing keeps visitors from clambering onto the roof.


Along Atlantic Avenue, the plaza is framed by the arena's swooping canopy and the transit center entrance.
 

The oculus itself offers a dynamic presence overhead and helps to animate the space.

The innermost part of the plaza will be shaded by a canopy cantilevered over the arena entrance, punctuated by a 117-by-56-foot oculus that allows light down into the plaza and frames views upward toward the structure. On the inside edge of the oculus, a programmable screen will be customized for games, events, and other activities.


Seen from Dean Street, the plaza, at far left, will eventually be home to one of the project's anticipated towers, becoming a glass-walled urban room at the tower's base.

The current design is intended to serve as a placeholder until economic conditions allow for the construction of the Atlantic Yards’ first office building. At that time, the portion of the plaza from the transit hub entrance to the arena will be enclosed in 80-foot-high glass walls, creating what the developers refer to as an “urban room,” with the office tower sitting on top. The team has not yet decided how the plaza will change when the office tower is added, but indicated that they hope to preserve many of its original design elements.

Julia Galef