Three months leading up to its inauguration by Jay-Z, the Forum hosted a tour with Forest City Ratner of the Barclays Center, the arena at the heart of the Atlantic Yards project in Downtown Brooklyn. Winthrop Hoyt, Assistant Vice President of Development in charge of the arena project, sorted through the project’s history, from the Gehry master plan through the new arena design by SHoP Architects to its scheduled completion at the end of September 2012.
Aside from the challenges of building a 15,000 seat arena in an urban setting, the Barclays Center had the added hurdles of the New York MTA and the LIRR, subway and commuter rails that required approval at every step of the process. Additionally, the incredible difficulty of building an arena in a lukewarm economic climate required a more affordable construction process. SHoP Architects managed to pick up the project and accomplish both, with prefabricated steel cladding and a scheme for retractable seating that would allow for versatile uses with a far smaller footprint.
Upon its completion in September 2012, the Barclays Center will be a cornerstone project in the evolving cultural infrastructure of Brooklyn, as well as a new icon for Downtown Brooklyn. Although the housing component of the Atlantic Yards will not be completed for several more years, the arena will likely begin the substantial and divisive redevelopment of the Prospect Heights and Fort Greene neighborhoods.