Yes, The Barclays Center Is Supposed to Look That Way


Oh, you DON’T think “covered in rust” is an attractive choice for Brooklyn’s most controversial building?

Well, you are not alone.

As the official opening of the Barclays Center approaches, the New York Times reports on the confusion surrounding its façade, which looks to be made up of swoops of rusting steel. Lovely! The Times spoke with people walking by, who were puzzled by the appearance of the arena.

“’Is it meant to be that way, with the rust?’ one woman asked, squinting at the steel.

“’I thought they were going to paint it,’ said a man who stopped to stare.”

Nope! This is exactly how it’s intended to look, how God aka Bruce Ratner conceived of this gift to Brooklynites. Apparently God has quite the sense of humor. Ha.

The material used for the arena is called weathering steel and “quickly develops a fine layer of rust, which then acts as a protective coating against moisture, slowing its own corrosion process almost to a stop. While it can look suspiciously unfinished to the casual observer, it has many fans in the world of art and architecture.”

“Suspiciously unfinished” is exactly how it looks to this casual observer, but, I must admit, it could look much worse. Considering how completely ugly the other Ratner buildings nearby the Barclays Center look, with their anonymous brick façades evoking nothing more architecturally innovative than a Secaucus office park, the Barclays Center is practically the Bilbao Guggenheim. And, really, who wants another all glass and chrome building. It wouldn’t integrate into the neighborhood any better than the weathered steel does. In fact, the overwhelming rustiness does have a sort of “shout-out to the corrosiveness of the Gowanus Canal” aspect to it. So there’s that! And when the rusty exterior stains the surrounding sidewalks a vibrant shade of orange, we can all just accept that as the price of having an NBA team play here at last! Just what we’d all been praying for all our lives. And God aka Bruce Ratner finally listened!

Of course, the larger question—weathered steel or not—of whether or not the Barclays Center can EVER feel truly integrated into the neighborhood that it resides in has been rendered rhetorical. It’s here. It’s huge. It’s covered in rust.

Let’s go Nets!

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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