Already one of Brooklyn’s most interesting developments, the Domino Sugar Refinery is going in a surprising new direction.
Unable to find a tenant for the landmarked 1882 Domino Sugar Refinery building at the heart of its long-in-the-making Williamsburg waterfront mega-project, developer Two Trees has scrapped Beyer Blinder Belle’s Landmarks-approved design.
Vishaan Chakrabarti’s Practice for Architecture and Urbanism will take over, with a new design. The news was first reported by New York Magazine.
In renderings of Beyer Blinder Belle’s design, the new interior was built into the existing structure. But contrary to appearances, this did not solve some of the former factory’s problems with light.
Reportedly, Two Trees Management had trouble “trying to woo companies into a space that remained awkward and dark,” among structural issues such as misaligned windows and a facade partly held up by factory equipment.
According to the new renderings by Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, the aesthetic ideas have remained the same. But there have been subtle, if substantial, tweaks: The shape of the glass top is now barrel-vaulted instead of rectangular (echoing the building’s original American Round Arch Style) and it crowns a new glass building that sits inside and does not touch the historic factory walls.
Two potential points of controversy: It’s unclear how the refinery’s exposed walls would be stabilized and protected from destruction by the elements. The new design also proposes to add three large and decidedly modern windows to the south-facing wall.
Beyer Blinder Belle is known for preservation. PAU founder Vishaan Chakrabarti is an urbanist who previously worked on the Domino master plan when he was at SHoP; the three-year-old practice won an award for its proposal for Penn Station.
Because the factory is landmarked, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will need to sign off on any changes before the project moves forward. They will consider the new proposal later this month, according to Curbed.
Few developers would jettison an already LPC-approved design, but Two Trees also discarded a previous developer’s plan that had already gone through the difficult public approval process known as ULURP. Other surprises included hosting a site-specific Kara Walker installation, ‘A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby,’ in the cleaned-out factory in 2014.
[Source: New York Magazine]
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