HAO Makes Counter-Proposal To “Save” Sugar Factory from Development in Brooklyn

Courtesy of

HAO, together with community group, Williamsburg Independent People, hope to save the historic Domino Sugar Factory site and halt the current masterplan by SHoP Architects which proposes an additional 2,200 luxury apartments along the East River in Brooklyn, New York

HAO’s counter proposal seeks to adaptively reuse the existing factory buildings, including the iconic Civil War-era Domino Sugar Refinery — which has defiantly held its ground amidst heavy redevelopment in surrounding areas. Not unlike SHoP’s proposal, HAO aims to regenerate these spaces into a “world-class cultural destination” that combines public and private programs. 

Courtesy of HAO

The difference, however, is in scale. The current master plan envisions five residential towers that rise 600 feet to, according to SHoP, create “a new skyline for Brooklyn — one that relates to the height of the Williamsburg Bridge and scales down to meet the neighborhood.”  

Courtesy of HAO

The counter proposal is a defiantly smaller scale — adapting to the average building heights of the surrounding area – reminiscent of Beijing’s 798 Art District with Bauhaus-inspired, sawtooth-like roof-scoops. “We explored possibilities that would open up the site and create a vibrant, mixed and cultural destination. We believe that, destinations like the 798 Art District and the Tate Modern, the Domino Sugar Factory has the potential to attract millions of visitors every year.” 

Courtesy of HAO

HAO’s counter proposal captures approximately 700,000 square feet of publicly accessible gallery space (surpassing even the MoMA by 70,000 square feet). The proposal divides the site into two general zones: a green energy technology center, educational, community and hotel-driven programming are located near the south; to the north, publicly accessible private museum space, exhibition and theater space.

Courtesy of HAO

For now, the counter proposal is merely an alternative. HAO and local Brooklynites, however, believe that to create a sustainable and revitalized Williamsburg, the city should reconsider caving in to mega-luxury-developments.

Review SHoP’s master plan and learn more about the counter proposals at SaveDomino.org.

Cite: Jose Luis Gabriel Cruz. "HAO Makes Counter-Proposal To “Save” Sugar Factory from Development in Brooklyn" 24 Nov 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=451552>
  • Bronxite

    NYC needs more housing. The SHoP Architects plan includes the only architecturally significant component of the old factory which is a nice touch. NYC is not a museum and must continue to create more density in transit rich areas, especially those close to the core.

    I am not a fan of the HAO proposal.

  • Ben

    The idea for this project is great. Putting something like Dia Beacon or Beijing 798 in williamsburg is a really strong concept.

  • orangeeli

    This is not “saving” the factory from development, nor does it need to be “saved” from development. In both proposals the factory remains, but only ShOP’s offers more of what we need desperately in NYC: housing.

  • john

    Adorable student project. Real estate people don’t really say ‘lowest and worst use’ but this might qualify. Who is supposed to be paying for the land,construction or maintenance? Which of the major NYC art museums who might fund a large expansion are clamoring for this space? This proposal is shallow and naive.

  • G

    This proposal would be hundreds of millions of dollars in the red, so that is another little “difference.”

    • C

      I believe with the millions of dollars they spent to secure this sight and what HAO proposed would not mathematically work out from a business perspective however I do like the idea. Its possible if they add a bigger marina with about 200 or more boat slips at 200k each a year and another hotel then it could possibly work.