An arena at the service of the city
Port Morris Tile & Marble
“If what comes first is a designer UFO, what comes second rises to meet the strangeness,” wrote Alexandra Lange in the columns of the influential magazine The New Yorker. And who knows what the legendary Walt Whitman – he of ‘I Sing the Body Electric’ – would have said, having lived in Brooklyn for many years. The development in question is the new Barclays Center, the iconic complex between Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues built to a design by New York-based practice SHoP Architects.
This high-profile development is intended to attract attention and to act as an urban catalyst, both as a landmark and by offering a wide range of entertainment and shopping activities. In particular, it occupies a prime site alongside one of the most important interchanges in the city, the Atlantic Avenue subway station where no less than ten different lines intersect, and across the street from the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal. Given this strategic location, the decision was taken not to build dedicated parking lots so as to encourage the use of public transport.
Built primarily to house the arena of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, the complex is designed in accordance with the latest functional principles and consists of a central hub devoted to sporting, musical and other kinds of events surrounded by an array of shops, bars, restaurants and other retail activities that keep the centre busy even outside the days and evenings of advertised events.
The Barclays Center can seat 18,200 people for basketball games or 19,000 in its concert configuration. It features four lounge bars, three clubs and the exclusive 40/40 Club & Restaurant by American Express, as well as a hundred luxury suites.
Inspired by the fluidity of digital design, the architecture stands out for its powerful aesthetic impact, further enhanced by a choice of materials that emphasises the contrast between the delicate latticework of the external shell and the tangible consistency of the enveloping Corten steel bands. The rough, varied Corten steel surface dialogues with the clarity of the large windows, which open up the ground floor of the building to the city and emphasise its role as a dynamic element and driver of urban quality.
Due to this sense of transparency, the layout of the interiors plays a key role in the composition, enhancing the quality and appeal of the new building while at the same time linking its identity to the location. As the architects explained, this result was achieved through the choice of a balanced colour palette that emphasises the aesthetic impact and quality of the surfaces and finishes. One of the most important of these is the wall covering made up of large format porcelain tiles (I Basalti series, black, from Ceramica Sant’Agostino).