New Design by Practice for Architecture and Urbanism to Be Presented Before the Landmarks Preservation Commission
11 October 2017 — Plans to transform the Domino Sugar refinery building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, into offices are taking a new turn: Beyer Blinder Belle’s design for the project has been scrapped, and developer Two Trees Management has now brought on Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) to take the reins.
New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson got the scoop on this change, and his story was accompanied by preliminary renderings for what the redeveloped factory may look like. But first, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will have to sign off on the changes—the Commission had previously given its all clear to the Beyer Blinder Belle version.
“As we prepared to start construction, it became clear the existing conceptual design didn’t deliver on the full potential of this icon,” David Lombino, the managing director of Two Trees Management, said in a statement. “The proposed new plan is better for everyone. It honors and highlights the landmark; it provides a flexible, modern and totally unique office experience; and it welcomes the public to enjoy this great piece of New York’s history.”
The building will still serve as an office complex, but the design has changed significantly. The new interiors will sit back from the existing brick structure, “inhabiting the landmark as an armature, allowing light and air to pass between the new office building and the existing brick structure.”
What was once set to be a boxy glass topper will now be a crystalline barrel-vaulted structure as a nod to American Round Arch Style, used as a model for the original design of the sugar factory.
Other additions include an open-air courtyard that will provide a connection between Kent Avenue and the new waterfront park, that is scheduled to open next year. The ground floor of the new office building will have shops, eateries, and restrooms for the public.
Some of the biggest factors for the redesign were the challenges the existing structure posed; the windows on the existing structure are misaligned and wouldn’t line up with office floors; the factory building didn’t have traditional floors, and the facade was mostly propped up by factory equipment, so hollowing out the building was essential.
“By proposing a building within a building that allows light and air to circulate around the historic structure, and by celebrating the landmark’s origins with a new crystalline barrel vaulted roof, we hope to help usher the Domino Sugar Refinery into the ongoing renaissance of Brooklyn’s working waterfront,” Vishaan Chakrabarti, the founder of PAU, said in a statement.
The Landmarks Commission will take up this proposal for consideration later this month.