Big House on the Railyard

Thanks to the Pops, one of our interests here at Meanderings is the field of architecture, particularly the design of sports arenas. This is partially because I can confidently challenge you to find an arena or stadium in the U.S. that hasn’t been designed by a firm from Kansas City.

Which is why it was so disappointing to see one of these firms turn in the most uninspired venue design since Veterans Stadium for a new arena in Brooklyn, just blocks from Meanderings HQ. For cost reasons, the design had replaced one by Frank Gehry. Needless to say, that one was cool. And much to the fear of neighbors, it was big. But to Gehry’s credit he had created a sort of elegant bigness. Ellerbe Beckett plopped an airplane hanger into residential Brooklyn. Even Kansas City had a more exciting and reasonable arena.

So it is with great relief that we find the developers were equally appalled, and brought in New York firm, Shop, to New Yorkify the arena. A blow to Kansas City’s modestly-sized architectural ego, certainly, but a victory for the soul of Brooklyn.

There’s still the problem of this massive development being plopped into the middle of Brooklyn. There’s not much on the land right now – most will be built over the Long Island Railroad – but skyscrapers next to brownstones is just seems incongruous. We’re all for the development, but here’s hoping the developers bring some scale to go with their class(ier) design.


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