Barclays Center’s Got 99 Problems

And the critics have made sure to let you know.

After causing much controversy and years of stewing consternation from citizens and critics alike, the behemoth Barclays Center has finally opened in Brooklyn, the first part of the grand Atlantic Yards masterplan. The rust-colored sweeping building — originally designed by Frank Gehry, then re-hashed by Ellerbe Becket (later joined by SHoP) to reduce its price tag from $1 billion to $800 million, then ended up costing $1 billion anyway — is getting, for the most part, negative reviews. Some of it’s animosity towards the burgundy color of the facade, made of weathering steel that, brilliantly, assuages all worries of oxidation damage by being rusty from the outset. For some, it signals the demise of an iconic borough. Sadly, we’re not going to see Jay-Z tonight (yeah, eight sold-out shows and we couldn’t get into one), so we won’t tell you first hand what we think of the architecture — but we can provide a round-up of critical highlights. First one, from SHoP’s very own Gregg Pasquarelli: it’s what would happen if “Richard Serra and Chanel created a U.F.O. together.”

“…tawdry and uninspired.”

James Gardner, the Real Deal

“The arena was always a Trojan horse: its stars (Jay-Z), its original starchitect (Frank Gehry), and its semi-public function (bringing pro basketball to Brooklyn) have been used to make the development of the Vanderbilt rail yard seem like a reward rather than an imposition… Its size and scalelessness, its aggressive form and color, its otherworldliness, condition the rest of the development site for more of the same.”

Alexandra Lange, the New Yorker

“huge frog… exceedingly strange… a stiff composition of stacked boxes by SHoP that makes me wistful for Gehry’s high-strung lyricism.”

— James Russel, Bloomberg

“The first ever computer generated turd.”

New York Times commenter Yertle the Turdel

But there is one guy out there who does like it.

“The outer walls ripple gracefully, the colored flash of multi-megawatt entertainment pulses from inside, and the front plaza reaches out to yank the public in. If Madison Square Garden hunkers glumly in its concrete drum, Barclays Center is an architectural chest bump: juiced, genial, and aggressive all at once.”

— Justin Davidson, New York magazine.

If we get tickets to Barbra on October 11, we’ll weigh in with our own thoughts.

– Janelle Zara