Dezeen Magazine

Domino Sugar by SHoP Architects and James Corner Field Operations

Manhattan studio SHoP Architects has designed a masterplan of hollow skyscrapers surrounded by gardens for the site of the former Domino Sugar refinery in Brooklyn.

Working alongside landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, SHoP Architects has planned a mixed-use complex that includes the renovation of the nineteenth century factory, five new buildings, plus a series of public parks, gardens and sports fields.

Domino Sugar by SHoP Architects and James Corner Field Operations

The plans replace earlier proposals by Rafael Viñoly for the historic site, which started production as a sugar factory in 1856 but has been out of use since 2004. Viñoly's proposals proved unpopular with local residents, so developer Two Trees commissioned an alternative that would offer taller buildings but more public spaces.

"If you're standing next to a 400-foot tall building or a 600-foot tall building, you have no idea," SHoP principal Vishaan Chakrabarti told New York magazine Curbed. "But if a 600-foot building means that you get a park where your kid can graduate, that means something to you."

The tallest building in the scheme is a 180-metre tower, which will be positioned beside the Williamsburg Bridge to the south. Other structures will be shorter in height, relating to the scale of buildings to the north and east, and will include a tower with a rectangular void through its middle and a school at its base, plus a 600-unit apartment building. The old factory will be transformed into offices for technology companies and the creative industries.

Domino Sugar by SHoP Architects and James Corner Field Operations

The developer plans to push ahead with the project this year and is organising community meetings in the upcoming weeks.

SHoP Architects has worked on a number of high-profile projects recently. The team completed the Barclays sports arena in Brooklyn in September and is also developing a masterplan for a new "silicon" city in Kenya.

New York-based James Corner Field Operations is best known for its role on the High Line, an elevated park on an abandoned railway.

Here's some more explanation from SHoP Architects:

With Two Trees Management Company, SHoP and Field Operation's masterplan for the Domino Sugar site replaces a city-approved 2010 plan with a new proposal that adds 60% more publicly-accessible open space on a new, highly accessible street grid; provides for a new 24/7 mix of office, residential, neighborhood retail, community facilities while retaining original commitments for affordable housing; and a new form of open architecture that connects the existing neighborhood to the new quarter-mile waterfront.

Most strikingly, the plan envisions a new skyline for Brooklyn—one that relates to the height of the Williamsburg bridge to the south and scales down to meet the lower buildings across Kent Avenue to the east. Central to the scheme is the renovated Domino Sugar refinery building, which will become the nerve center of the project as a new office building across from a new public space, Domino Square.

The new surrounding buildings are porous, featuring large openings that allow light and air to penetrate through the site and into the neighborhood beyond. While exuberant on the skyline similar to new architecture being built around the world, the buildings responsibly meet the ground and the Williamsburg Street grid.