New Plans for the Domino Sugar Complex, Revealed
By Justin Davidson
New York Magazine
3 October, 2017
Photos courtesy of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
College of Environmental Design (CED) alumnus, Vishaan Chakrabarti (M.Arch ‘96), has been commissioned to reenvision one of New York’s historical landmarks: the Domino Sugar Refinery. Chakrabarti, who founded the studio Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), seeks to add contemporary touches to the traditional, industrial structure of the refinery.
A century ago, the Domino Sugar refinery would have been considered one of New York’s most important buildings. The sugar industry played a paramount role in New York’s history and helped develop the city’s economy, legislature, real estate market and culture. Despite the importance of the sugar industry, the Domino Sugar Refinery is nothing more than a protected ruin today.
The plan for the refinery’s new architecture was conceived by Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) and was approved by the Landmarks and Preservation Commision. The plan for the refinery was to construct a new interior of office buildings inside of the old shell which would emerge from the roof as a pair of stepped glass boxes. This plan seemed to resolve many of the problems inherent to the Domino Sugar Refinery, such as poor lighting and uneven flooring. However, it was unable to attract companies into a space that remained dark and impractical. As such, developer Jed Walentas approached Chakrabarti with the Domino Sugar Refinery challenge.
Chakrabarti’s plan for the refinery includes a rectangular glass building topped with a barrel vault that lies within the original walls. The glass does not touch the original walls—roughly 10-12 feet of open space will exist between the glass and the wall to create a sense of separation from the old and new. A courtyard on one side of the building will also emphasize the divide. This space will create a feeling of openness for the offices inside, and the original walls will serve as a “perforated screen made out of brick.” Chakrabarti’s design is a simple yet innovative answer to the problems created by the original structure of the refinery.
To read more about Chakrabarti’s design, click here.