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New Design Unveiled for NBA Arena in Brooklyn

Fri September 25, 2009 - Northeast Edition

NEW YORK (AP) With just months to go until a critical financing deadline, the developer trying to move the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn unveiled a revamped design for the team’s new arena.

The latest plans for the Barclays Center call for a domed, irregularly shaped arena with glass walls wrapped in two bands of brownish weathered steel.

In drawings and models, the woven steel bands give the building the appearance of being covered in wicker.

People arriving for basketball games or concerts will enter the building beneath a huge overhang that cantilevers over a public plaza. Some glimpses of the interior stadium bowl and the scoreboard will be visible from the street.

The design is the latest in a string from the development team, and the second since the project’s original architect, Frank Gehry, was jettisoned because his $1 billion design was too expensive.

These latest plans are a collaboration between the architectural firms Ellerbe Becket, a veteran designer of sports stadiums, and SHoP, which was added to the project in June.

Developer Bruce Ratner said the two firms have been working with “Mercury-like speed’’ in advance of a crucial December deadline. The development, dubbed Atlantic Yards, needs to break ground by then or lose access to the tax-free bonds financing much of the project.

Ratner said that the new designs are “iconic’’ and include “the best-designed interior layout of any sports facility.’’

Opponents of the arena project were unimpressed. The group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn called the designs “lipstick on a corrupt pig.’’

“The project is still a sham,’’ the group said in a statement.

The arena is part of a broader redevelopment plan that is to eventually include 16 residential and office towers with more than 6,400 apartments, built over property that now includes a rail yard, warehouses and several blocks of homes and businesses.

Critics of the project include homeowners whose property is being seized by the government to make way for construction and many other city residents who think the development will be too disruptive for the residential neighborhood.

It is unclear how much of that original plan will get built. Lawsuits have held up construction for years, and the plans for the office building and apartment towers are on hold.

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