Barclays Center, a rust-covered spaceship that, in 2012, landed smack-dab in the middle of brownstone Brooklyn under the command of a Russian oligarch and a hip-hop superstar, will be topped with “one of the largest and most impressive green roofs in the city and perhaps the entire country,” according to the CEO of Greenland Holding Group Co., a Chinese development firm that will helping to foot the bill for the project.

The reason(s) that the developers of the highly contentious Atlantic Yards mega-development that includes the $1 billion Barclays Center have decided to erect a 130,000-square-foot green roof that hugs the existing domed roof of the arena like a sedum toupee? 

For starters, there’s the issue of noise. Since the crazy-popular sports and entertainment venue first opened its doors, christened by Jay-Z in a string on sold-out concerts, Barclays Center has been the subject of numerous noise complaints from neighbors, including a $3,200 noise violation from the city following a particularly bass-heavy Swedish House Mafia show in March 2013. The massive vegetated roof would essentially help to absorb the noise.

Developer Forest City Ratner, however, is downplaying the noise pollution factor.

Reports the Wall Street Journal:

‘We wanted to do the amenity for the benefits to the community and the residents that this green roof will bring, rather than having that traditional arena roof,’ said Linda Chiarelli, an executive vice president at Forest City.

But the greenery also would help muffle concert music that escapes from the arena, and several people who have discussed the noise issue with Forest City executives said the company is planting the vegetation to help contain the sound. While most Barclays events aren't noisy, neighbors occasionally complain about concerts that rely heavily on thumping bass sounds.

Ms. Chiarelli acknowledged the green roof will reduce sound levels, although she said noise complaints didn't play a role ‘in driving the decision.’ The roof was still being designed, she said, declining to comment on its cost.

So if not noise pollution, why the decision to now top the arena with a green roof, a feature included in the orginal design of the building but ultimately scrapped because of cost concerns?


As hinted at by Chiarelli, the developers are hoping that a bit of aesthetically-pleasing greenery will drive potential renters to the apartment towers that are being erected as part of the next phase of the 22-acre Atlantic Yards development. Ultimately, there will be 6,400 housing units spread out amongst 15 mid- and high-rise apartment towers including a 32-story modular structure known as B2. Three of these towers, including B2, will be located directly adjacent to Barclays Center — and it's a given that many of the units will look right down onto the currently rather unexciting roof of the arena. 

Says MaryAnne Gilmartin, president and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, in a press release: “Our original design for the arena had anticipated a green roof as part of our effort to achieve Silver LEED certification. While we independently reached that goal, we always hoped to still create a green roof, further improving the environmental footprint of the arena and also making a more direct connection to the sedum covered transit entrance on the plaza. Thanks to Greenland, which shares our commitment to sustainable development, we now have the resources to make this dream a reality.”

Greenland is not an investor in Barclays Center itself or in B2 but is a partner in the other Atlantic Yards towers that be built in the future. It's also worth pointing out that Barclays Center's original grassy topper was accessible to the public. This one, however, will not be.

It’s expected that the SHoP Architects-designed green roof, which will hoover above Barclay Center's existing roof from 4 to 10-feet and be supported by a steel structure, will take roughly nine months to complete (sadly, in time for a sure-to-be-raucous Yanni concert in August). According to the venue, a series of prefabricated sedum trays will be arranged in a "flocking" pattern that matches back to the structure's "weathering steel" exterior.

The current roof of the arena is anything but verdant: a blinding white with a giant blue bank logo on it — probably not something that folks living in the future towers will want to look down on each and every morning. "It's going to be a nice green surface to cast your eyes down onto," Chris Sharples, a partner at SHoP, tells the Journal.

Via [WSJ]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

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