Posts tagged with "PAU":

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PAU reinvents the center of a complex postindustrial waterfront

The conversion of a 137-year-old sugar factory into a contemporary office complex requires a delicate touch when the building is landmarked—and even more so when it’s the heart of a complex, 11-acre riverfront master plan. The Domino Sugar Factory sits along the Williamsburg waterfront in Brooklyn on a SHoP Architects' master-planned redevelopment which also includes the James Corner Field Operations–designed Domino Park, SHoP’s doughnut-shaped 325 Kent, and COOKFOX’s mixed-use 1 South First. The facade of the Domino Sugar Factory is landmarked, but the interior, a tangle of sugar refining machinery, much of which acted as support infrastructure, was not. So, when Two Trees tapped Vishaan Chakrabarti’s Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) to helm the factory’s conversion, the studio proposed a radical solution. Rather than renovate the building, they would instead stabilize the historic brick facade, and drop in an entirely new structure with a glass curtain wall. “The original building has a simplicity and muscularity,” Chakrabarti, told AN, but the building's American Round Arch style arched windows rarely line up across floors and are a variety of different sizes. That meant that using standardized floor plates that touched the landmarked facade was infeasible. Separating the brick walls from the new structure negated the issue. By nesting the new building inside the old one, PAU has created a 10- to 12-foot-wide “breezeway” between the two that allows light to permeate all the way to the ground floor. This also affords each floor a different view of the facade. All of the original windows in the historic facade will be removed, creating a shell that will surround the new building, which will be stabilized with steel supports extending from the new structure. Chakrabarti, who helped lead the master plan while a partner at SHoP, described the site as a bridge between the past and the future, and the design fully embraces that philosophy. The glass topper that rises above the original factory’s roofline (but sticks below the smokestack facing Kent Avenue) consists of structurally-glazed mullions and heavily articulated glass at regular intervals. The barrel-shaped roof is reminiscent of an industrial skylight, but while it was a clear reference, the team didn’t want the contemporary addition to be too industrial nor compete with the heaviness of the surrounding brick. Rather than thinking of the building as having traditional front and back entrances—pitting Williamsburg versus the East River waterfront—PAU lowered the bottom all of the windows on the first floor of the brick facade to the ground, creating a permeable membrane and allowing the public to pass through. According to PAU, merging from the hardscape on Kent Street to River Street and Domino Park fulfills the pledge that SHoP made in the master plan to “pull” River Street out toward the public. While no tenants have signed on to occupy the offices yet, Chakrabarti expects that the building will attract creative industries thanks to the unique atmosphere. No completion date for construction on the Domino Sugar Factory conversion has been given yet, but interior demolition is ongoing.
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Vishaan Chakrabarti named dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design

Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) founder Vishaan Chakrabarti is taking his ideas to the left coast.

Chakrabarti announced yesterday that he will be the next Dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design (CED) starting in July of 2020, a post that was previously held by Jennifer Wolch. He is founding an outpost of his PAU practice in California, and leaving the New York office in the hands of Ruchika Modi, the office's associate partner and studio director.

In a letter, Chakrabarti noted that the appointment would give "jet fuel" to PAU and enable it to go after institutional and cultural projects. The firm is behind the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn into high-end office space, a proposed Penn Station transformation, and a master plan for the sprawling Sunnyside Yard in Queens. "CED and PAU also perfectly mirror each other in terms of their twin pillars of design excellence and social impact," reads the open letter. "This is why Berkeley was excited at the thought of a practitioner dean consistent with the top design schools around the world." "Berkeley approached me about this in January, and after much discussion both at home and in the office, we all decided this would add jet fuel to our practice and our desires to design buildings for universities and cultural institutions, and would add adventure to our personal lives. California itself is extraordinary, and is also the gateway to all of the west coast and Pacific Rim. "One final note: I love New York and I always will. In my heart I am not going anywhere, and at the end of either a five or ten-year term as Dean, I may well be back ready to take on even bigger challenges here in the Big Apple."

In addition to running his firm, Chakrabarti is currently an associate professor of professional practice at Columbia GSAPP, a position he has held for the past decade.

Between now and 2020, professor Renee Chow will serve as interim dean of CED.

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Riverfront Square will stitch Newark, New Jersey's tech corridor together

Could Newark, New Jersey, be the Northeast's next big tech hub? It already boasts the region's most advanced fiber-optic network and serves as home to digital giants like Audible.com, an Amazon company. No wonder it was a top contender for HQ2. Though it didn’t win the bid, one major project that’s been in planning for three years could raise the city’s status to the next level. An upcoming development in the heart of downtown Newark promises to be a vital, mixed-use community for innovative companies. Riverfront Square, envisioned by local firm Lotus Equity Group, will be built steps away from the Passaic River and feature up to 2.3 million square feet of office, residential, hospitality, cultural space, and more within the city’s burgeoning tech sector, the Broad Street Corridor. Lotus has tapped TEN Arquitectos, Michael Green Architecture, Minno & Wasko, and Practice for Architecture & Urbanism (PAU) to design individual buildings for the 12-acre site as part of a masterplan by PAU. Built out in seven phases, the project will sit atop the old Newark Bears baseball stadium, which will be demolished later this year to make way for the first housing structure, a curved linear building built over a five-story, mixed-used base clad in brick. Designed by PAU, the elongated structure will be set at the edge of Riverfront Square along the Essex Freeway.  In an interview with AN in 2017, Vishaan Chakrabarti of PAU said the city lacks a "connective tissue" to link its many cultural and educational institutions together. Riverfront Square, he said, will be a sort of "renaissance for Newark" with a focus on tech. Initial renderings reveal the first four phases of construction, which will add 1,300 workforce housing units and half-a-million square-feet of commercial office space to the site. Phase 1 of construction is set to break ground this summer. At the core of the development will be a mass timber building, touted as the tallest of its kind in the United States, by Vancouver architect Michael Green. The 12-story office structure appears in renderings to be three separate structures, but in reality, the building features a continuous floorplate connected by a full-height atrium. With 500,000 square feet of office space, it will also include ground floor retail, a café, and restaurants to help ignite what the developers want to become a 24/7 district. It will be built on the site’s southwestern corner. David Linehan, Lotus’s architect and development manager for Riverfront Square, said setting up a sustainable environment to benefit Newark (and lure people in) is a key component of the project, one that the city understands and is committed to backing. “It’s difficult to get newer products and ideas like using mass timber for large-scale projects through current codes, especially in New York,” he said. “For Newark, we’re working with the State of New Jersey to take a look at existing codes that allow timber to be used at this level. The city sees it as an opportunity to be at the forefront of what’s clearly going to be a major part of the future construction industry in the U.S.” During the second phase of construction, four rectangular towers will be raised at the southern edge of the site along Broad Street. Enrique Norten will design the buildings, which will be offset slightly from each other in order to maximize light, air, and views of New York’s skyline. They’re likely to feature a metal panel and glass facade. Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects will provide a plan for the site's green spaces, which will turn a very urban, concrete area into a nature-filled leisure and cultural retreat for residents and local workers. The landscape will aim to increase downtown's connection to the adjacent Newark Riverfront Park, an on-going landscape development that received an award-winning initial design by Lee Weintraub in 2013. James Corner Field Operations is slated to create an additional 15 acres of space for the park in the coming years. 
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What do architects want from a Green New Deal?

As the scale of climate change has accelerated and grown direr in recent months, upstart politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York have made addressing the issue a central part of their political platforms. Talk of a Green New Deal (GND) has picked up since November's elections, reflecting a major shift in how Americans discuss climate change. But what is the Green New Deal and how might it impact architects?

The impetus behind the GND is simple: Because the threat of anthropogenic climate change is so fundamental, only a government-led, war-like industrial and economic mass mobilization effort can potentially transform American society quickly and thoroughly enough to avoid global catastrophe.

There are plans to unveil the first round of draft legislation at the federal level this week, but as of yet, no official set of policies has been agreed upon by legislators and activists. But various elements of a supposed GND have been touted for years (see here and here for thorough explainers).

Generally speaking, GND proponents have three specific and wide-ranging goals:

First, activists are calling for the wholesale decarbonization of the U.S. economy. That means eliminating all carbon emissions across every industry in the country, including in vital sectors like energy production, building design, construction, and transportation.

Second, this transition would include a federal jobs guarantee backed by the large-scale deployment of new public works projects. A job guarantee, which, generally speaking, would provide anyone who wanted work with some form of federal employment, would allow people currently working in carbon-intensive industries to leave their jobs for publicly-funded green-collar work. The guarantee, supporters argue, would create a vast, fairly-paid workforce that could get to work transforming American society right away.

Third, activists pushing the GND generally agree that the transition to a carbon-free economy must incorporate socially-just practices that rectify past practices that have exploited certain communities. Such reforms include finding ways to house people displaced by climate change, countering the long-term effects of redlining and the racial wealth gap, and making sure that unlike the original New Deal, the benefits and jobs created by any GND are enjoyed by people of color and other historically marginalized groups.

The initiative would go beyond simply greening the country's energy grid or incentivizing a shift to public transit and electric vehicles; the GND envisions a top-to-bottom reworking of the U.S. economy. Likely, the effort will involve densifying existing cities, building new ones from scratch, and perhaps most importantly, retrofitting and upgrading nearly all of the country’s existing building stock. Architects will be vital to the effort and are likely to benefit from a potential GND through new commissions and opportunities to provide input and expertise across a range of projects and scales.

In an effort to help spur discussion among architects on a potential plan, The Architect’s Newspaper asked designers from around the country to share their wish lists for what a potential GND might include. The responses span a range of issues that touch on the built environment, project financing, building codes, and environmental regulation, among other topics.

For some, creating incentives to reuse and retrofit existing buildings could be a key component of the deal. Karin Liljegren, principal at Omgivning in Los Angeles said, “I’d like to see how legislators can reassert the importance of the federal government’s Historic Tax Credit Program (HTC). The HTC incentivizes developers to rehabilitate iconic and viable old buildings, but it has recently been under threat after decades of stability. Enshrining these incentives in the legislation would send a massive signal to clients like ours.”

But, of course, focusing only on the most iconic historic structures would likely send many buildings to the trash heap. To address “less iconic structures or ones that require an approach that is more adaptive than restorative,” Liljegren suggested “a program of economic incentives that helps developers prioritize the broader reuse of existing buildings. Reusing a structure can certainly be more challenging than building new, but the payoffs are enormous—less embodied energy and waste is only the beginning. In terms of texture, form, and spirit, existing buildings enrich our identities and communities.”

For other architects, increasing the scope of public transportation options in parallel with boosting density is the way forward. Vishaan Chakrabarti, founder of PAU in New York City, said, “A Green New Deal should include what I called the 'American Smart Infrastructure Act' in my 2013 book A Country of Cities. In that proposal, I call for the elimination of existing subsidies that encourage sprawl like highway funding, the mortgage interest deduction, and low gas taxes.” Chakrabarti argued for applying this new revenue toward building a national high-speed rail and urban mass transit network that can serve new investments in affordable transit-oriented multi-family housing and low-cost office space. The funding, however, “should only go to municipalities that discourage single-family housing density, like Minneapolis recently did,” Chakrabarti added.

Of course, the overarching network of regulatory policies, like environmental, structural, energy, and seismic codes, that shape the built environment could be improved, as well.

Anica Landreneau, director of sustainable design for HOK in Washington, D.C., pointed to the recently-adopted Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act, which she helped craft, as a potential guide for creating a “self-improving threshold” that requires building owners to retrofit existing structures above a certain size according to rigorous energy performance standards. The plan, set to take effect in 2020, seeks to align the energy performance of existing buildings with the steadily-increasing performance metrics crafted for new structures, like LEED certification and Energy Star ratings. The plan will peg the performance standards for existing buildings to the median Energy Star score for all buildings of the same type in the District of Columbia. As the overall energy efficiency of buildings in the District improves over time, the thinking goes, periodic post-occupancy reviews will help create a self-improving target that will compel building owners to upgrade their structures to avoid fines.

In addition to improving incentive programs like the HTC, changes to the way projects are financed more broadly could also help bring to life many of the GND's transformative new projects.

Claire Weisz, principal at WXY in New York City suggested the government “require banks to invest a required minimum 40 percent of their loans in building construction and projects that have sustainable longer-term benefits and proven investments in training and hiring for green jobs.”

David Baker, principal of David Baker Architects in San Francisco, advocated for increased funding for affordable and urban housing projects overall. Baker said, “A major limiting factor on beginning to solve our affordable housing crisis—and the associated climate impacts—is simply money. We have many affordable projects ready to go but currently delayed by a lack of funding.”

Peggy Deamer of The Architecture Lobby wants to make sure that the rights of workers—and the right to work, in general—are not left out of the conversation amid talk of green infrastructure and shiny, new projects. Deamer said, “It is too monothematic to go after environmental solutions without the larger economic structure into which both the effort unfolds or the new carbon-free world functions. If the tech industry’s effort at automation leaves most of us without work or income, who wants to live in that green world?”

In conversations with architects, the issue of affordable urban housing came up often, especially in relation to the stated aims of the GND’s main backers, which include increasing social equity through the program. Because America’s urban areas contain 85 percent of the country’s population and are responsible for 80 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, it is likely that the GND’s effects will be most profoundly felt in cities.

That’s important for architects concerned with racial and social equity in the field. With a rising cohort of diverse young designers—as well as many established firms helmed by women and people of color— it’s possible a potential GND could engender a surge of important projects helmed by diverse practitioners. That possibility, when coupled with the existing diversity of urban residents and potential clients, could transform how architecture is practiced across the country.

It’s a realm where Kimberly Dowdell, president of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), thinks her organization can have an impact. “Black architects have a unique opportunity to take the lead in shaping the future,” Dowdell said. “In under-resourced urban communities, which are often majority Black, there is a great need for a new approach to design and development that fully embraces the quadruple bottom line: social, cultural, environmental, and financial.” Dowdell added, “NOMA members have been doing this kind of work for generations. Now, with the Green New Deal, this experience is especially relevant.”

With a “quadruple bottom line” approach at the center of a potential GND, professional architecture organizations pushing for increased equity among their ranks, and demographic trends leading to greater diversity, the architectural profession is poised for significant change that could be accelerated by a GND.

As the potential changes begin to take form, inclusion will likely remain a top priority for designers. Dowdell explains: “In general, everyone needs to have a seat at the decision-making table as it relates to shaping our collective future on this planet. With such a high concentration of minorities in cities, it is absolutely critical that a truly diverse set of minds and voices are empowered to implement the best of the Green New Deal.”

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PAU to unleash 2,100-unit affordable housing complex in East New York

Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) is bringing over 2,000 units of affordable housing to the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, via a partnership with the Christian Cultural Center (CCC), an influential neighborhood church, and the Gotham Organization. The ten-acre development will be anchored by community services geared towards current residents in a neighborhood that's been in developers' crosshairs since a 2016 rezoning. Over the next decade-and-a-half, the team plans to deliver an "urban village" in the shadow of Starrett City, the country's largest federally-backed affordable housing complex. In addition to 2,100 apartments spread out over nine buildings, the new development will include performing arts center, medical services, a site for vocational training, retail space for local entrepreneurs, as well as athletic facilities and over two acres of public space. The plot, now used for parking on worship days, is owned by CCC. Groundbreaking is slated for sometime in the mid-2020s. "When we traditionally think about infrastructure, it’s transportation and utilities," said PAU Founder and Principal Vishaan Chakrabarti, in a press release. "Today, we know that for a community to succeed it needs access to a broader infrastructure of opportunity—open space, education, health care, child care, social opportunities, and culture. Each of these things is considered in the plan that we have prepared with Gotham to advance Rev. Bernard’s vision for a sustainable and equitable community." The reverend Chakrabarti references is Rev. A.R. Bernard, leader of CCC's 45,000-member congregation. Although his church and its future development sit about two miles south of the recently-rezoned area, the idea for the development came about as a way to protect the largely working-class community the church serves in the face of rampant developer-driven speculation in the neighborhood. East New York is second only to Long Island City, Queens, in the number of residential permit approvals last year, according to The New York Times. As local developers line up to build in East New York, it'll be a busy next decade for PAU, too. The New York firm was tapped to master plan Sunnyside Yards, the pasta tangle of rail lines in Queens that could be largely decked over for up to 24,000 apartments and companion facilities.
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PAU confirmed as Sunnyside Yard master planner

Alicia Glen, New York’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, and Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia, announced at a media briefing yesterday that master planning for Sunnyside Yard in western Queens would begin summer of 2018. A steering committee made up of local stakeholders and technical experts will be guiding the process, while Vishaan Chakrabarti’s PAU will be leading the master planning team (confirming a leak from late March). PAU’s team and the steering committee will utilize the results of the feasibility study commissioned in February of 2017 as a starting point in planning for the future of the 180-acre active rail yard. Over the next 18 months, the steering committee and planning team will establish long-term plans for how to best develop the site, and what the most feasible first steps will be. Regular check-ins with the community will also be scheduled, as the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Amtrak want to keep the process forward-facing. Co-chaired by the city and Amtrak, the 35-person steering committee includes several members of Sunnyside’s Community Board 2; President of the Regional Plan Association Tom Wright; President of LaGuardia Community College Gail Meadow; and representatives from developers, construction associations, Amtrak, NYCHA, and other groups with a vested interest in the project. Also of note was the appointment of Cali Williams, a long time NYCEDC employee as the Director of Sunnyside Yard. Any of the resulting plans will involve decking over an extensive portion of the rail yard while keeping it running for the Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and New Jersey Transit trains running below. To that end, the actual master plan consultant team is something a who's-who of New York firms. Thornton Tomasetti will be handling the structural engineering, Sam Schwartz Engineering will be responsible for the mobility planning and engineering, and Nelson Byrd Woltz has been tapped as the landscape architect. The Italian firm Carlo Ratti Associati has also been selected as the project’s “futurist”, to help guide expand the team’s thinking about what’s possible. The initial NYCEDC feasibility study determined that decking over 80 to 85 percent of the site was possible, with the potential to build out up to 24,000 residential units, 19 schools, and 52 acres of parkland, at a cost of $19 billion. While monetary considerations weren’t raised explicitly at the May 2nd meeting, it was pointed out that this project would be a significant investment to Western Queens. Right now, the steering committee will be dedicated first and foremost to deciding how to advance what the community wants most out of the development. The steering committee’s formation comes at a critical time for the yard, as the MTA will also be working at the site to bring the East Side Access project online (allowing LIRR trains to reach Grand Central). Governor Cuomo has promised that that particular project will be ready by 2022.
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Check out in-progress photos and new renderings of the Domino Sugar Factory

Ahead of its June 2018 opening date, Domino Sugar Factory developer Two Trees Management has released new renderings of the project’s forthcoming park, as well as opened the site up for a tour. AN had a chance to check out the James Corner Field Operations-designed Domino Park, as well as the completed 325 Kent Avenue and the ongoing interior demolition at the Domino Sugar Refinery. The SHoP Architects-designed 325 Kent, a doughnut-shaped rental building set back from the Williamsburg waterfront, was the first building to reach completion at the SHoP-master planned site. The 16-story, 500-unit rental building (105 of them affordable) began welcoming residents back in September of 2017. As the weather warms up, residents will get to make use of the rooftop amenities on display, such as curved concrete furniture, lounge chairs, and the central strip of courtyard that runs between the building’s central arch. Domino Park is taking shape at the foot of 325 Kent and is on track to open in only 8 weeks. The quarter-mile-long park breaks its programming into “active” and “passive” activity spaces, with the more active areas located closer to the thrum of the Williamsburg Bridge. The second Domino Sugar Factory tower, the mixed-use, COOKFOX-designed 260 Kent, is on track to open in 2019. A dog run, two bocce ball courts, a 6,300-square-foot “flexible playing field” and a volleyball court make up the more energetic half. At the other end, a Japanese Pine garden, 80-to-100 person picnic area, and the Danny Meyer-run taqueria, Tacocina, will sit at the quieter half of the park. A technicolored children’s play space designed by artist Mark Reigelman, with industrial pieces inspired by the sugar refining process, can be found at the passive end of the park, as can 585-linear-feet of elevated walkway. The walkway sits directly on top of Tacocina, and incorporates 21 steel columns from the former Raw Sugar Warehouse into its superstructure; the sight will be a familiar one to visitors familiar with Kara Walker’s The Sugar Sphinx. Linking each area along the waterfront will be the Artifact Walk, a five-block-long stretch that proudly displays historical refining artifacts salvaged from the site. Four 36-foot tall cylindrical syrup tanks embedded in the Syrup Tank Garden, mooring bollards, signage, and corkscrews have been installed across an elevated platform on the water’s edge. Damaged during Hurricane Sandy, the existing platform was raised to a uniform height above the river, and the new piles have been encased in concrete. To build a historical link to the pre-existing structure, a hole has been cut in the platform and visitors can view the existing wood posts and river below. Work on gutting the Domino Sugar Refinery is still ongoing, in anticipation of the PAU-designed glassy office space that will soon sit within. While the exterior of the factory has been landmarked, preserving the interiors would have been impossible due to the interconnected nature of the refining machinery. Even though the factory shut down in 2004, the thick smell of molasses is still hanging around the building at the time of writing. As for the park, although it’s technically private, Two Trees has opened the expanse to the public and is working closely with the New York City Parks Department. A representative from the development company has stated that James Corner Field had their designs reviewed and approved by Parks, that the stretch will operate on normal NYC park hours (dawn to dusk), and that they’ve given the city permission to claim the park if maintenance falls behind. AN will provide a final look at the finished Domino Sugar Park once the project is completed this summer. COOKFOX's 260 Kent will be featured in detail at the upcoming Facades+ workshop "K. Domino Site A: Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) & When and Why to Use It" on April 20.
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Vishaan Chakrabarti and PAU reportedly tapped for Sunnyside Yard master plan

A team headed by Vishaan Chakrabarti has been chosen by the de Blasio administration to create a master plan for Western Queens’ Sunnyside Yard rail pit, according to Crain’s New York. While nothing has been officially announced, Chakrabarti and his firm, Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) will be responsible for envisioning how to deck over the 180-acre yard and support parks, retail, commercial, and thousands of residential units. The idea to deck over the still actively-in-use train yard with housing has been kicking around since 2015, when Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned a feasibility study from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Released in February of 2017, the report found that it would be feasible to deck over anywhere from 80 to 85 percent of the site, and up to 24,000 residential units could be built for around $19 billion (about the cost of Hudson Yards). Each of the three schemes in the feasibility report offsets the mixture of residential units with space for cultural centers, schools, retail, and office space, though it’s unclear what PAU will focus on. Sunnyside Yard, which is so large that it stretches across the triangle of Astoria-Long Island City-Sunnyside neighborhoods, is still in active use by Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, and any plan would need to allow for its continued use. Because of the difficulty involved in building over an active train yard, the master plan will help inform Amtrak’s decision to upgrade its facilities in the future. PAU’s selection comes on the heels of a Request For Qualifications released by the NYCEDC in September of last year, though neither party were willing to confirm the choice to Crain’s. Assuming the report's sources were correct, PAU will draw up a vision for the rail yard and create a specific development plan for the megaproject, a process city officials estimate could take up to two years. “We remain on track with the original schedule for this project,” a spokesman for the NYCEDC told Crain’s. “We continue to work closely with Amtrak, and we will also engage community stakeholders before beginning any master-planning process.”
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PAU’s revised Domino Sugar Factory proposal passes Landmarks scrutiny

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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Landmarks sends PAU's Domino Sugar Refinery design back for revisions

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.