World Building of the Week

Domino Sugary Refinery

Practice for Architecture and Urbanism | PAU
24. June 2024
Photo: Max Touhey

In 2017, PAU started the design for an adaptive reuse of the Refinery building, an industrial urban landmark constructed by Theodore A. Havemeyer, intended to be the crown jewel of the new mixed-use neighborhood master planned by PAU founder Vishaan Chakrabarti, complete with an activated mix of creative office space, market-rate and affordable housing, neighborhood retail, and community facilities.

Back of Domino Sugar Factory's 11-acre (4.4-ha) site facing Manhattan — 325 Kent, One Domino Square, The Refinery at Domino, Domino Park, One South First and Ten Grand (Photo: Max Touhey)
Front of Domino Sugar Factory 11-acre (4.4-ha) site in Williamsburg (Photo: Max Touhey)

PAU was tasked with creating open architecture that seamlessly connects the existing neighborhood to the recaptured waterfront a quarter-mile long. The result is a state-of the-art, 425,000-square-foot workspace housed within a beautiful, idiosyncratic urban artifact that is unique to post-industrial Williamsburg, offering a singular experience for its inhabitants and the larger community alike.

Front of The Refinery with salsa classes at Domino (Photo: Max Touhey)
Havemeyers chimney (Photo: Max Touhey)

The transformation of the Refinery entailed three major design moves: inserting a contemporary building in the sleeve of the historic structure, similar to the machinery it once housed; creating a glass barrel vault form that pays homage to the American round-arch style of the original; and opening the ground floor to the park and the surrounding Williamsburg neighborhood.

The Refinery at Domino and activated Domino Park (Photo: Max Touhey)
Plantings between The Refinery's new and old facades (Photo: Max Touhey)

This approach has created an iconic landmark for the 21st century, offering users natural light, luscious greenery, waterfront views, and a contemporary dialogue with history that most new commercial projects lack. Although conceived before the pandemic, the Refinery represents a future of work that offers a unique rootedness in place and community that is invaluable going forward.

Office space (Photo: Max Touhey)
Refinery Penthouse (Photo: Max Touhey)
Project: Domino Sugary Refinery, 2023
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Client: Two Trees Management
Architect: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism | PAU, New York
Interior Architect of Record: Dencity Works Architecture 
Structure: Silman
MEP: Ettinger Engineering Associates
Landscape: James Corner Field Operations
Lighting: L’Observatoire International
Gross Built Area: 460,000 sf (42,735 m2)
Perspective section (Visualization: PAU)
Rendering (Visualization: PAU)

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