Oh Honey Honey

Brooklyn’s Domino Park blends industrial chic with careful pacing

Case Study East Landscape Architecture
On the elevated walkway, salvaged beams, lattices, and columns from the refinery accompany new steel beams and kickers, precast concrete planks, and metal fencing. (Daniel Levin)
On the elevated walkway, salvaged beams, lattices, and columns from the refinery accompany new steel beams and kickers, precast concrete planks, and metal fencing. (Daniel Levin)

For the first time in 160 years, a 6-acre span on the East River waterfront in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge is open to the public. Located in front of the former Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn, James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) designed Domino Park to inspire curiosity about the site’s history while including new materials to balance its unique identity with performance.

Organized into three zones, the active recreational park includes a dog run, bocce court, volleyball court, and sport field; the water square features the fog bridge and seating steps; and the passive part of the park houses a picnic area, a lawn, a beach, and a playground.

Organized into three zones, the active recreational park includes a dog run, bocce court, volleyball court, and sports field; the water square features the fog bridge and seating steps; and the passive
part of the park houses a picnic area, a lawn, a beach, and a playground.(Courtesy James Corner Field Operations)

A unifying element in Domino Park is its artifact walk that weaves throughout the site. According to Lisa Switkin, senior principal at JCFO, “Integrating the artifact walk with custom furniture made from reclaimed wood from the Raw Sugar Warehouse creates a unique experience where people come into contact with remnants of the original refinery and have an up-close relationship with those artifacts.” Throughout the park, JFCO-designed benches, tables, and chaise lounges create texture and a sense of community. The elevated walkway is supported by beams from the refinery, while other factory elements such as columns, lattice beams, and a loading dock are incorporated throughout. Stadium-style seating made out of the refinery’s salvaged wood creates a central gathering space in front of a water feature by Soucy Aquatik. The refinery’s influence is also evident in the playground, designed by Mark Reigelman, with its many nods to factory structures. It also incorporates part of the factory’s old floors.

The fog bridge connects the entire park. When the mist lifts, visitors can see the East River below. (Daniel Levin)

The park is organized into three areas. Each is connected by Hanover pavers selected in a mix of finishes for durability and color, “keeping with the tough, industrial look as well as maintenance and loading requirements,” said Switkin. The most active area, in the southern end, holds a dog park, a picnic playground, a bocce ball court, and a tennis court. The middle area is dotted with lawn chairs and features a fog bridge. The recreational stretch in the north houses the lawn, a beach, the playground, and the elevated walkway. Tectura pavers were chosen for the walkway because of the manufacturer’s ability to produce the long-format precast concrete planks needed to fit the dimensions of the walkway and meet the load criteria.

The Domino Sugar Refinery rises behind the park. The park's central area features planters with shade and flowering trees interspersed with Hanover concrete slabs that separate into pathways.

The Domino Sugar Refinery rises behind the park. The park’s central area features planters with shade and flowering trees interspersed with Hanover concrete slabs that separate into pathways. (Daniel Levin)

Introducing new lighting by BEGA, Sentry Electric, and LED Linear, along with Landscape Forms’ Ring Bike Racks and Chase Park Receptacles, JCFO was able to work with materials that are highly durable and sustainable. Switkin explained, “These products created a dynamic urbanscape to activate the neighborhood.”

JCFO specified new and reclaimed materials that can withstand rain, sun, and everyday wear and tear, including custom concrete slabs and turquoise gantry cranes.

JCFO specified new and reclaimed materials that can withstand rain, sun, and everyday wear and tear, including custom concrete slabs and turquoise gantry cranes. (Daniel Levin)

Master Planner: SHoP Architects and James Corner Field Operations

Landscape Architect: James Corner Field Operations

General Contractor: Kelco

Pavers: Hanover Architectural Products, Tectura Designs

Lighting: BEGA, Sentry Electric, LED Linear

Furniture: Custom benches, tables, and seating steps made with reclaimed wood from Raw Sugar Warehouse, Landscape Forms’ Ring Bike Rack and Chase Park Receptacle, Elkay Drinking Fountains

Fog Bridge: Soucy Aquatik

Playground Designer: Mark Reigelman

Custom Playground Equipment: Landscape Structures

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