The Landmarks Preservation Commission is taking a look at plans to transform the Domino Sugar refinery building into offices. Originally being designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, the project has now been handed over to Practice for Architecture and Urbanism to create the new designs. Whether or not the new plans will make it to reality remains to be seen as developers seek approval from the commission.
Out with the Old, in with the New
Being developed by Two Trees Management, the development had been previously approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission under the design provided by Beyer Blinder Belle. Managing director of Two Trees Management David Lombino, however, stated that that existing conceptual design did not live up to the full potential of the iconic building. Lombino claims that the new plan will be better for everyone involved as it honors the landmark while also providing a flexible and modern office design.
Making Changes to the Original Design
While the building will still serve as an office complex, the new design calls for the new interiors to sit back from the existing brick structure. This will allow light and air to pass between the new office building and the existing structure. The boxy glass topper that was included in the original design, for example, will now be a crystalline barrel-vaulted structure. This change will serve as a nod to the American Round Arch Style that was used with the original design for the sugar factory. The new design also calls for an open-air courtyard, which will serve as a connection between Kent Avenue and the new waterfront park opening next year. Meanwhile, the ground floor will feature eateries, shops and public restrooms.
Facing Redesign Changes
A number of challenges had to be addressed when redesigning the building. For example, the windows on the existing structure are misaligned, which means they will not line up with office floors. The factory building also lacks traditional floors, while the façade is mostly propped up by factory equipment. As such, hollowing out the building is an essential part of the redesign process. In essence, the design calls for creating a building within a building, which will address these issues while also allowing for light and air to circulate around the structure.
Of course, the Landmarks Commission will have the final say on whether or not the new plan can move forward. In regard to other developments at the Domino megaproject, SHoP Architects will still serve as the architects for the master plan. The doughnut-shaped residential building at 325 Kent Avenue that was developed as part of this plan welcomed its first residents in July. Work is also currently underway on a second residential building located at 260 Kent Avenue, with developers breaking ground on the project in April. The project will bring 330 apartments and 150,000 square feet of office space to the neighborhood. 20 percent of the new residential units will be affordable.