The Shady Tale of the Barclays Center’s Bolts

If you’ve ever passed beneath the divisive Barclays Center and pondered its rusty exterior, you’d be interested to learn that its rich history involves dramatic foreclosures, faulty fabrication, and a structurally flawed facade.

The New York Times today reported that in August, a month before the venue’s opening, engineers had found that some of the bolts holding together the 12,000-panel facade were only half the strength they should be, and after a full inspection, they found that 8 percent (that’s about 2,000 out of 23,000) needed to be replaced, a task completed only a month ago. In December 2011, ASI Limited, the fabricator commissioned to construct and weather the notoriously brown steel panels, had defaulted on a loan and closed its doors. A month later, another company hired workers to split days into two 12-hour shifts to play catch up.

Granted, the pre-weathered steel survived the winds of Hurricane Sandy and no fallen panel-related deaths have been reported, but the Times’ most alarming discovery was that the New York City Buildings Department was unaware of the problem. “The department was not made aware of this issue,” spokesman Anthony Sclafani told the paper. “We would expect to be notified in a case like this.” Developer Forest City Ratner was able to produce a letter sent to the department that vaguely stated the problem, although it did not mention exactly how many bolts needed to be replaced. Executive vice president Robert Sana assures that such issues are normal in highly customized construction projects, which does nothing to assuage our anxiety that something could’ve detached and fell on top of us on our way out of the Jay-Z show.

— Janelle Zara