5 Proposals For Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards Megaproject

In a new exhibition, architects offer alternatives to developer Forest City Ratner’s plan for the site’s second phase.

The Atlantic Yards, a sprawling, 22-acre redevelopment project in Brooklyn, has been plagued by controversy since it was proposed a decade ago. Critics objected to its use of eminent domain, its environmental impact, and its pace of construction.


The $5 billion project includes the Barclays Center, which opened in 2012, and 16 residential and commercial buildings, including what is set to be the world’s tallest modular building.

So far, only Barclays Center has been completed. The project’s second phase, which features 11 residential towers, has not broken ground. Now a group of architects have dreamed up alternatives for what Phase II of the development could look like. Their new exhibition, “Five Proposals for the Future of Atlantic Yards,” is on display in Brooklyn this month.

The exhibition, organized by Thomas Barry, includes designs from Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design, Amoia Cody Architecture, David Cunningham Architecture Planning, Matthias Altwicker and Farzana Gandhi, and Barry’s own Brooklyn-based OPerA Studio.

The architects were tasked with designing alternatives that would do a better job than the current plan of creating public space and of fitting into the scale and context of the surrounding brownstone neighborhood–while still adhering to the master plan for the site by developer Forest City Ratner. That plan includes 4,728,000 square feet of housing and 156,000 square feet of commercial space.

“It’s basically a ‘tower in the park’ type scheme,” Barry tells Co.Design of the current plan, comparing it to Le Corbusier’s often-criticized high-rise urban planning scheme. “It stands very starkly in contrast to the character of the entire surrounding city and the neighborhood in which it sits.”

Joshua Zinder, whose proposal aims to bridge the gap between the low-rise Prospect Heights neighborhood and new high-rise towers, says in a statement that he hopes the exhibition “raises awareness of how thoughtful design can make large-scale project successful from every perspective–even elevating them to points of civic pride.”


The architects hope the exhibition will trigger a hearty and genuine dialogue about the huge development. The proposals are “intended to illustrate to the community that there are alternative architectural possibilities, all equally profitable for the developer,” according to Barry.

About the author

Shaunacy Ferro is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, urban design and the sciences. She's on a lifelong quest for the perfect donut.