Karrie Jacobs


June 5, 2009

Welcome to Normative

Nets Arena at Atlantic Yards as designed by Ellerbe Becket (via the New York Times), with ghostly Gehry towers in the background.

From today’s New York Times, as reported by Charles Bagli:

Citing financial concerns, the developer of the long-delayed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn has scrapped plans for a Frank Gehry-designed $1 billion glass-walled basketball arena for the Nets in favor of a less expensive arena.

The new design, which will cost about $200 million less, comes from Ellerbe Becket, an architectural firm based in Kansas City, Mo., that specializes in convention centers, stadiums and arenas and designed Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where the Indiana Pacers play. Officials who have seen the design say that while it resembles Conseco Fieldhouse it also bears a likeness to an “airplane hangar.”

From Metropolis Magazine, July 2005, written by yours truly:

He has retained architect Frank Gehry and landscape architect Laurie Olin to woo the cognoscenti. But do we judge Ratner’s intentions by what he’s built in the past or what he’s promising for the future? When I look out my window I stare directly at one of his projects—a windowless high-rise multiplex with an Aztec-patterned facade—and question whether Ratner should be charged with redeveloping such a substantial chunk of the borough.

Ratner, of course, cites the economy and the delaying tactics of the Atlantic Yards opponents for his return to the mediocre architecture that is his calling card. The word architects like to use for the Ellerbe Becket approach is “normative.” It’s a highbrow way of saying, “You can find arenas pretty much like this one in cities around the country.” Like, say, Springfield, Missouri. The Nets arena will be of a piece with Ratner’s Atlantic Terminal and MetroTech. It will be ultra-normative. Oh, and he can only pay the MTA $20 million of the $100 million he currently owes them for development rights of the railyard. Can we please, please pull the plug on this ill-conceived mess and do a proper development plan for the area?

For the full story, see the Atlantic Yards Report.

And courtesy of our Asia desk, this highly non-normative, but also non-nice, stadium from Ellerbe Becket.  My first thought:  “Eeeeew.”