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Ball Don't Lie

The Nets’ new $1 billion Barclays Center is already completely covered in rust, by design

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The outside of the Barclays Center, as pictured last April (Getty Images)

When Brooklyn Nets part-owner Jay-Z opens up the new Barclays Center with a series of hippin' and the hoppin' concerts in late September, those attendees who haven't walked by the new Nets arena might be surprised at the building's rustic exterior look. Or "rusty" exterior look. Because, seriously, there's rust all over the outside of the place. On purpose.

The New York Times is reporting that the building has been covered in 12,000 pieces of something called "weathering steel," which appears to be a needlessly long way of describing "rusted metal." The impetus behind the use of the product is apparently a mix of function and fashion, and popular in some parts of New York City. Though some, according to the Times' piece, have yet to be swayed.

Elizabeth Harris has the scoop:

Weathering steel — often known by its old brand name, Cor-Ten — develops a fine layer of rust, which then acts as a protective coating against moisture, slowing its own corrosion process almost to a stop. While it can look suspiciously unfinished to the casual observer, it has many fans in the world of art and architecture.

This industrial, raw-looking material can be seen on a smattering of homes in and around New York City, and though they may be vastly different in design, scale and method of construction, they all have one thing in common: a fiery apron of orange on patches of the pavement below. That is because especially in its early life, weathering steel drips.

Though the "weathering steel" phenomenon is catching on in parts of NYC, the Times admits that "residential examples are not plentiful." Worse, as anyone who grew up with a Datsun station wagon in the family's driveway will tell you, when hit by rain rust tends to bleed. Even if it doesn't sleep.

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It seeps, actually, right down to the pavement below where it stains the sidewalks and stoops. Worse, it discolors windows; some of which might belong to neighboring residents or business owners that didn't quite get on board with the idea behind pre-stained metal as something to be admired as a party piece.

Worse, to me, is the fact that the pre-rusted steel was "put through more than a dozen wet-and-dry cycles a day" at a treatment center in Indianapolis before it was sent Brooklyn's way. I'm not exactly chaining myself to trees or trading in that Datsun for a Prius, but that seems like a ridiculous waste of a finite necessity just for mostly aesthetic uses.

This is nothing new, of course. For years blue jeans have come pre-worn, and even Fender introduced a series of "road worn" guitars a decade ago in order to give musicians the feeling that comes from playing an instrument that has been knocked around for a while. The building, if we're honest, doesn't look all that bad.

It's 2012, though, and trends tend to be trendy and impermanent; much more so than a pair of blue jeans or Fender Stratocaster. The fashion behind a rusted-out exterior could fade long before the stained sidewalks ever do. Which could be another shot to the bow of Brooklyn residents, already wary of the Nets muscling into their block.

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