Team Ratner Unveils Brooklyn’s Most Exhaust-Filled Public Space

Image: SHoP Architects

The incredibly traffic-free bird's-eye rendering of the Barclays Center plaza. Image: SHoP Architects

Yesterday Forest City Ratner released images of the temporary public plaza slated for the triangle between Flatbush and Atlantic, and you’ve gotta appreciate the spin coming from the developer and his design team. Wedged between two epic traffic sewers, without much noticeable provision for shade or shelter, it will become, in the words of Bruce Ratner, “one of Brooklyn’s great public spaces.” (Until an office tower gets built in its place.)

Not convinced that the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic is conducive to any sort of public activity? Here’s Greg Pasquarelli of design firm SHoP, courtesy of the Brooklyn Paper:

Pasquarelli insisted that “the plaza [will] become a meeting place, and the focus of the neighborhood.”

When asked, Pasquarelli admitted that there would be considerable noise from the traffic on Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, but no more than in other urban plazas.

“There’s a lot of traffic around Union Square, with Broadway,” he said. “This plaza will feel safe and open.”

As of this month, there’s only one lane of moving traffic on two sides of Union Square. Ratner’s plaza will be enveloped by traffic, and unless you approach from Prospect Heights, you won’t be able to walk to it without crossing some of the deadliest streets in the city:

Map of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities: CrashStat

Here’s what that looks like on a typical day, captured in time lapse video from Tracy Collins:

All that traffic is only going to get worse. As Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn noted in his response to Ratner’s announcement, Brooklyn could be stuck with the “interim” plans for the Atlantic Yards site for a very long time. Which means, for the foreseeable future, huge surface parking lots on the east side of the arena generating lots and lots of car trips. Those parking lots don’t appear in Forest City Ratner’s renderings. But this does:

Image: SHoP architects

The bustling crowd, including kids on bikes and dog walkers, who will brave Brooklyn's most dangerous streets to get to Ratner's plaza. Image: SHoP architects