After an unsuccessful first attempt before the Landmarks and Preservation Commission (LPC), Vishaan Chakrabarti’s Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) and developer Two Trees Management Co. have received the go-ahead for their plans to convert the former Domino Sugar Factory into office space. PAU’s design will nest an entirely new glass building inside of the factory’s brick shell, without actually touching the façade save for support beams. Slotting into the SHoP-designed masterplan for the former Domino Sugar site on the Williamsburg waterfront, the design from PAU attempts to bridge the gap between the project’s industrial roots and the five new buildings going up in the neighboring area. By pulling the top of the original factory off, the barrel-vaulted glass roof of the new 400,000-square-foot building can rise higher than the original structure itself, but not as high as the smokestack facing Kent Avenue. Part of the deciding factor is the way in which Chakrabarti and PAU paid homage to the detailing and wear in the original brick through the mullion patterning on the glass structure. It seems the board overcame the trepidation they had the with the scheme the first time around, when commissioners questioned the necessity of converting the original building to an encasing “ruin” in order to save it. The 10-to-12-foot wide “breezeway” between the factory and new office building will remain intact under the new plan presented. David Lombino, Managing Director of Two Trees Management Co., released a statement after the vote for approval. “Thank you to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for engaging in a productive and thoughtful review and for supporting this exciting new approach to making the Refinery building the centerpiece of the Domino redevelopment,” he said. “The 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.” Although there was only one “no” vote for the new proposal, the height of the glass barrel-vault was called out as it dwarfs the surrounding brickwork. PAU may still tweak the design as the project moves forward.
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The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has asked PAU to take its plans for the Domino Sugar Refinery back to the drawing board. While reactions from the public and commissioners were warm on the whole, commissioners debated whether the building, which has sat vacant for more than a decade, is a ruin or "armature" as Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) claimed, or whether the structure could—or should—be treated like an adaptable building. Essentially, PAU intended to use the facade as a mask for a glass office building. Instead of sitting right up against the old brick, the new building would be set back ten feet from the old, and workers could get outside and up close to the original walls via metal latticework terraces poking through the glass envelope. The approach, explained founding principal Vishaan Chakrabarti, would preserve the bricks by equalizing the temperature and humidity on both sides while allowing the architects flexibility within a challenging original structure. A round arched glass roof would dialogue with the American Round Arch windows that define the facade, while on the ground floor, the designers proposed a through-access from the Kent Avenue smokestack to the park and water that would would be open to the public. "We are guardians of the future of the past, and our central question is whether, through the restoration, the old can give new identity to the new," he said. PAU's approach is similar to a Beyer Blinder Belle proposal the LPC approved in 2014, a fact that Chakrabarti and developer Two Trees underscored in cross-comparisons throughout the presentation (PDF). The firm also drew inspiration from Norman Foster's renovation of the Reichstag, in Berlin, and to St. Ann's Warehouse, Marvel Architects' theater complex in an industrial ruin on the DUMBO waterfront. Purpose-built 19th century factories are often difficult to adapt for non-manufacturing uses, and the Domino refinery is no different. The part of the refinery under consideration today accommodated massive machines that boiled, filtered, and reconstituted sugar; the windows give the structure monumental panache from the outside but bear no relationship to the interior program. Consequently, the architects decided to give the new, 400,000-square-foot building within the old the same floor-to-floor heights throughout, allowing access to windows of uneven height on the terraces. From the outside, the mullion pattern on the barrel-vaulted glass roof would reflect the gradation of the bricks on the weathered smokestack, a nod to the old within the new. (The bricks, a project engineer confirmed, are in "generally good" condition.) Though PAU hasn't selected the glass yet, Chakrabarti indicated it would be as "clear as possible," noting that the firm is considering electrochromic glass for the roof. When he broke the news of the Domino plans last month, New York Magazine architecture critic Justin Davidson called the 19th-century structure a ruin. PAU maintains the factory is a "donut awaiting filling." But Landmarks wasn't so sure. "As an architect, I really like the aesthetic," said Commissioner Michael Goldblum. "To my recollection, this is the first time a building that is and was understood as an occupied volume is being transformed into an unoccupied ruin or 'armature,' to be read as an independent object from the [proposed] structure." "I'm not saying it's inappropriate, but I'm struggling," he added. On the public side, two neighborhood nonprofits supported the design, while the Municipal Arts Society (MAS) asked the commission to work with PAU and Two Trees on the specifics of the proposal, particularly the windows and desired patina. It suggested a public exhibition on the refinery to prevent the building from being understood as "just a ruin." Preservation advocacy group the Historic Districts Council, however, was not on board with the proposal at all. "[To] strip the building down to a shell would represent a significant removal of historic fabric and would destroy the 19th century industrial construction methods still exhibited inside—and both are important reasons for the complex’s designation in the first place," said HDC's Patrick Waldo. In light of the "ruin or building?" discussion, the LPC took no action on Tuesday, and as of now, there's no date set for PAU to present its revised proposal. Although today was the first time PAU's plans landed before the LPC, the renderings were revealed in early October. Back in 2014, Two Trees tapped SHoP and James Corner Field Operations to master plan the site. SHoP also designed 325 Kent Avenue, the square donut copper-and-tin–clad building adjacent to the sugar factory, a residential building that began leasing earlier this year. James Corner Field Operations' park on the waterfront is slated to open this spring.
The Domino Sugar Refinery has been an unmistakable element of the Brooklyn waterfront for over a century now – dating from the 1880s, the weathered brick façade, towering smokestack, sugar chutes and blown-up Domino logo are now synonymous with the landscape of Williamsburg. In the most recent stage of the refinery's redevelopment saga, plans have just been revealed by Vishaan Chakrabarti (founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, or PAU) for a glass addition to the building's envelope. PAU was commissioned to update the designs for the renovation after the original plans by Beyer Blinder Belle proved unsuccessful at luring real estate interest. In response to this challenge, PAU has created a nested design that expands upward from the refinery's main building – a vaulting structure of steel and glass placed within the original shell of the factory. The firm immediately realized that adding an interior to the existing, hollowed-out structure would be difficult – its staggered windows wouldn't accommodate a more streamlined layout of office floors. There are no direct points of contact between the two structures save a few supportive beams, creating a 10-foot breezeway between the new and old structures (and a ground-level wraparound courtyard). As the firm put it, the nested structure will be "inhabiting the [Domino] building like an armature." Between the glass and brick, there are balconies cantilevered out into the interceding space for lounging amid the plant's lines of open-air windows. PAU's reinterpretation has essentially stripped the refinery of all its industrial space and preserved the outer shell as a historic barricade or ruin. In New York Magazine, Justin Davidson astutely pointed out the only structure he could think of taking an entirely similar approach dates from antiquity – a church built inside a 1000-year old Greek temple in Sicily. The refinery redesign is just one of many developments for the total Domino property – five neighboring buildings of which have been designed by SHoP Architects. Chakrabarti himself is a former partner at SHoP, though he left in 2015 to found his own firm, partly out of a desire to shift into public-sector work. As PAU's website lays out, their work is oriented towards cultural and institutional projects, prototypes linking technology and the city, urban master planning, and public space design. What they don't do: single-family suburban homes, work for autocratic/dictatorial nations, work for clients with "unacceptable environmental practices," or "facilities that manufacture arms." The social tilt of Chakrabarti's work has become marked – most recently, the firm released plans for a rehab of New York City's notoriously clogged-up Penn Station and a proposal for a new Indian Museum of Independence.
Today, real estate development firm Two Trees Management released new images of the James Corner Field Operations (JCFO)–designed Domino Park, which will line the waterfront of the 11-acre Domino Sugar redevelopment site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In its press release, Two Trees confirmed that the park is on track to open in the summer of 2018, as per its original estimates. “By opening Domino Park in its entirety next summer—ahead of the site’s new waterfront buildings—we are delivering on our commitment to bring waterfront access and much-needed public park space to North Brooklyn,” said Two Trees principal Jed Walentas in the press release. “Weaving in industrial remnants of the factory, Domino Park will serve as a living, breathing reminder of the history of this storied neighborhood.” As part of its design, JCFO preserved 21 columns from the site's Raw Sugar Warehouse, 585 linear feet of crane tracks, and 30 other "industrial artifacts" that will be used in the park. This includes "36-feet tall cylindrical tanks that collected syrup during the refining process, mooring bollards, bucket elevators, and various dials and meters from the factory." JCFO is extending River Street to run the length of the park, all the way from Grand Street to S. 5th Street at the base of the Williamsburg bridge. The aforementioned artifacts (including two 80-foot-tall cranes) will feature prominently in the aptly-named "Artifact Walk," a five-block stretch that includes a "450-foot-long elevated walkway" inspired by the catwalks of the old sugar factory. When complete, the Domino Sugar project—whose campus is being designed by SHoP Architects—will feature 380,000 square feet of offices and 2,800 rental apartments (700 of which will be affordable) across four buildings. The landmarked Domino Sugar Refinery building, designed by the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism and Beyer Blinder Belle, will retain its facade and host the offices. 325 Kent will be the first residential tower to open, in June 2017
At 8 a.m. this morning, a construction worker fell two stories from scaffolding on the Domino Sugar factory site, 335 Kent Avenue, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, near the Williamsburg Bridge. The former factory is currently being converted into affordable housing backed by New York City and designed by SHoP Architects with developer Two Trees Management. "We are overwhelmed with grief by this tragic accident and extend our deepest condolences to his family, loved ones and colleagues," a representative of Two Trees said in a statement. "All work has stopped on the site and we are working closely with the city to determine the cause of the accident." The Domino Sugar factory site is an open worksite, although union workers have performed specialty tasks onsite. This is the 11th construction worker death in the city this year according to the Department of Building. The majority of the construction worker deaths that took place last year were also on non-union worksites. The City Council is currently working on new legislation that would make worksites safer and the process of reporting injuries and fatalities more accurate. Now, a special session regarding this legislation has been called before the year’s end. Slated to open in 2018, the Domino Sugar Factory building will have a total of 500 apartments, 105 of which will be affordable units. The redevelopment will be a total of 600,000 square feet and will also include office space, ground-floor retail, terraces, and an open plaza, as well as access to the waterfront, a new five plus acre park designed by James Corner Field Operations, and a new ferry landing. The former factory is an exterior landmark, so the 19th-century redbrick facade will remain unchanged. However, new “industrial luxury” amenities will be used throughout such as exposed brick, ceiling beams, will define the interior spaces.
As AN has been reporting for a while now, it's all systems go for the long-stalled Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment on the Brooklyn waterfront. Crews have been demolishing old structures on the site for months, and today we got word that the developer, Two Trees, is breaking ground on the massive project's first residential building: a 16-story, 500-unit rental building designed by SHoP, which is designing the entire project. In a press release, the developer noted that "approximately 105" of the 500 units will be designated as affordable. With news of the groundbreaking also comes a new rendering of the building that gives us a better sense of its design. While its overall form appears to be roughly the same, with terraces that create a cascading effect, its materials have clearly changed. Atop a masonry podium, SHoP said the building will be clad in industrial materials like zinc and copper. The building is slated to be completed in 2017. Two Trees also announced that it's starting to repair the site's waterfront pier to accommodate an upcoming 5-plus acre public park designed by James Corner Field Operations. This prep work is expected to take between 12 and 18 months.
SHoP Architects has racked up another major project in Brooklyn. The firm behind the Barclays Center and the Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment, is designing Brooklyn’s newest, tallest tower. NY YIMBY spotted building permits for 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension in Downtown Brooklyn, where the firm’s 775-foot-tall, 495-unit building will rise. SHoP's high-rise will top Brooklyn's current tallest tower—388 Bridge Street—by about 200 feet, but its reign at the top could be brief. In June, the New York Times reported that enough air rights could be picked up on the same block as the SHoP tower—at the site of Junior's Cheesecake—to build a 1,000-foot-tall tower. There are no renderings for SHoP’s project just yet, but it will likely be a major improvement for Downtown Brooklyn's skyline, which is quickly filling-up with generic glass towers.
Before the old Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is razed to make way for the massive SHoP-designed mixed-use complex, it has been transformed into a gallery for famed artist, Kara Walker. Inside the 30,000-square-foot space, which stills smells of molasses, she has created a 75-foot-long, 35-foot-high, sugar-coated sphinx (on view through July 6th). The work, which was created in collaboration with Creative Time, is called A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, and according to Walker’s artist statement, it is “an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World.” Because of its sheer size, the bleached-white sphinx is impossible to fully see and comprehend from just one side; as the view of Marvelous Sugar Baby changes, so do the questions she raises. It is a work about ruins and time, female sexuality and power, and, most fundamentally, sugar and race. “A form like this form embodies multiple meanings, multiple readings all at once, each one valid, each one contrasting with the other,” said Walker standing alongside her work. Inside the cavernous space, Walker has also created a procession of figurines made of molasses and resin in the shape of smiling, basket-carrying boys who appear to be melting away under spotlights. Days before the unveiling, when two of the boys actually did melt away—or at least shatter—Walker picked up their pieces and placed them in the baskets of those still standing. For Walker, this installation was about more than creating another great piece of work and expanding her artistic vocabulary; it was about filling the factory’s final days with something grand. “It was my obligation, being given the opportunity to work in this space, to bring as much as possible into it because it is never going to happen again,” said Walker.
After a long and heated fight to save Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital from demolition, the site’s future as a medical center has been cemented. But along with the full-service hospital could come two residential towers that are significantly taller than anything in the predominantly-brownstone Cobble Hill neighborhood. According to Crain’s, “the would-be real estate developers of the medical campus are counting on high-rise residential towers of a scale never before seen in the heart of brownstone Brooklyn in order to make the deal pencil out, according to emails among executives involved in the bid.” Brooklyn Health Partners—a company created to participate in the bidding process for the project—is reportedly planning two 40–50 story towers at the site, one condo and one rental. The scale of these towers was not included in the team’s winning bid. The group's spokesperson told Crain’s they’re not yet focused on that part of the project. To get this plan approved, the development team is also adopting what Crain's called the “Domino approach”—a reference to the winning strategy for the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Factory. At that site, the developer, Two Trees, was granted zoning changes in exchange for an increase in affordable housing. Plans for the towers at the Long Island College Hospital site call for 20 percent affordable units in the condo tower, and 40 percent in the rental. As the with Domino, this plan requires approval from the de Blasio Administration and City Council. Updated 4/30/2014: Sources tell the Daily News that Brooklyn Health Partners' plan to maintain a hospital on the Long Island College Hospital site has likely collapsed. The News reports, "De Blasio, state officials and two powerful healthcare unions all but acknowledged that the winning bidder for the site, a group called Brooklyn Health Partners, has little ability to follow through on its pledge to maintain a hospital there." A spokesperson for Brooklyn Health Partners rejected this report, saying, "On May 5, BHP will make a $25 million non-refundable payment and show it has the financial means to complete the entire project." Watch this space.
The $1.5 billion redevelopment of Brooklyn's Domino Sugar Factory has reached a potential breaking point just days before a vote to seal its fate. It’s New York Mayor Bill de Blasio against developer Jed Walentas in what can best be described as an old-fashioned standoff. The lines are drawn—here’s where things stand. The New York Times reports that Mayor de Blasio has insisted that Walentas increase the amount of affordable housing units at the site. In return, his administration will grant approval for taller towers at the SHoP-designed site. Specifically, de Blasio’s team asked for an additional 50,000-square-feet of affordable housing, which would be used for larger units to accommodate families. But Walentas says he’s already done more than enough. The current proposal sets aside 660 of the total 2,300 apartments for low- and middle-income tenants. In fact, Walentas is reportedly so distraught over the mayor’s request that he has threatened to scrap the whole thing altogether. According to the Times, “Mr. Walentas is balking, and has even threatened to revert to the older, unpopular plan.” That plan only includes only 440 affordable units. While that seems unlikely, some affordable housing advocates are worried de Blasio’s gamble could backfire. Rob Solano, a local community board member and executive director of Churches United for Fair Housing, told the Times, “It’s a delicate balance between pushing as hard as you can and a break… If we get to the point where nothing is built, or there are more delays, that’s another day without affordable housing.” If that were to actually happen, it would be a major blow to the de Blasio administration, which has promised to “preserve or construct” 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years. Ultimately, this back-and-forth foreshadows the development battles to come as the mayor sets out to achieve his ambitious goal.
Last week was a big week for development in the already condo-saturated area of north Brooklyn. Brownstoner reported that City Council gave the massive Greenpoint Landing proposal the green light to construct 10 towers along the East River waterfront. While the project already had the approval to build as of right, the developers made a few concessions including an agreement to build a public school, offer free shuttle service to transit nodes from the complex, bump up the number of affordable housing units, and allocate money towards Newton Barge Park. In Williamsburg, the SHoP-designed Domino Sugar Refinery proposal (pictured) received Community Board One's approval. Two Trees also had as of right to build its string of towers, but the developer is now seeking to increase the height of the buildings and add more green space. Board members requested a few tweaks to affordable housing options and retail.
Today New York City Department of City Planning certified the application for Two Trees' major redevelopment plans for the iconic Domino Sugar Factory site along the Williamsburg waterfront in Brooklyn, marking the start of the six-month public review process. Two Trees purchased the 11-acre property from developer CPC Resources, and is seeking to bump up the height of the buildings from the previously approved plan of 3.1 million square feet of space to 3.3 million square feet, add 500,000 square feet of office space, and dramatically increase the amount of open space. The developer enlisted SHoP Architects to design the plan. Last March, the developer unveiled their plans, which included a series flashy doughnut-shaped towers.