the world's most visited architecture website
i

Sign up now and start saving and organizing your favorite architecture projects and photos

Sign up now to save and organize your favorite architecture projects

i

Find the most inspiring products for your projects in our Product Catalog.

Find the most inspiring products in our Product Catalog.

i

Get the ArchDaily Chrome Extension and be inspired with every new tab. Install here »

i

All over the world, architects are finding cool ways to re-use run-down old buildings. Click here to see the best in Refurbishment Architecture.

Want to see the coolest refurbishment projects? Click here.

i

Immerse yourself in inspiring buildings with our selection of 360 videos. Click here.

See our immersive, inspiring 360 videos. Click here.

All
Projects
Products
Events
Competitions
Navigate articles using your keyboard
  1. ArchDaily
  2. News
  3. PAU's Plans for the Domino Sugar Refinery Sent Back for Revisions Despite Popular Support

PAU's Plans for the Domino Sugar Refinery Sent Back for Revisions Despite Popular Support

PAU's Plans for the Domino Sugar Refinery Sent Back for Revisions Despite Popular Support
PAU's Plans for the Domino Sugar Refinery Sent Back for Revisions Despite Popular Support, Outdoor terraces between the new glass office building and historic “armature” would bring workers close to the original brickwork. Image © PAU via LPC
Outdoor terraces between the new glass office building and historic “armature” would bring workers close to the original brickwork. Image © PAU via LPC

This article was originally published by The Architect's Newspaper as "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 be open to the public.

PAU proposed regular floor-to-floor heights, right, to reconcile the irregular placement of windows on the original facade. Image © PAU via LPC
PAU proposed regular floor-to-floor heights, right, to reconcile the irregular placement of windows on the original facade. Image © PAU via LPC

“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.

© PAU via LPC
© PAU via LPC

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.

Rendering of the penthouse with rounded glass arch roof. Image © PAU via LPC
Rendering of the penthouse with rounded glass arch roof. Image © PAU via LPC

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.

View into the public courtyard on Kent Avenue. Image © PAU via LPC
View into the public courtyard on Kent Avenue. Image © PAU via LPC

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.

Diagram of original factory interior. Image © PAU via LPC
Diagram of original factory interior. Image © PAU via LPC

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.

View the complete gallery

About this author
Audrey Wachs
Author
Cite: Audrey Wachs. "PAU's Plans for the Domino Sugar Refinery Sent Back for Revisions Despite Popular Support" 03 Nov 2017. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/882890/paus-plans-for-the-domino-sugar-refinery-sent-back-to-the-drawing-board-despite-popular-support/> ISSN 0719-8884