215 Park Avenue South, 1901
New York, NY 10003
212 962 6307

Domino Sugar Refinery

Brooklyn, NY


Office Building with Public and Retail Ground-Floor Uses


Two Trees Management


Interior Architect of Record: Dencity Works Architecture

Structure: Silman

MEP: Ettinger Engineering Associates

Landscape: James Corner Field Operations

Facade Consultant: Focchi Group

Lighting: L’Observatoire International

Photography: Max Touhey


460,000 GSF



Like the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Industry City, the Domino Sugar Refinery is a nerve center of New York’s new working waterfront. An industrial urban landmark constructed by Henry Havemeyer, the building long dominated both Brooklyn’s skyline and economy. The structure was built to consolidate three functions inside three conjoined buildings—the filtering, panning, and finishing of sugar—that required the use of enormous equipment housed in cavernous, multistory spaces purposefully obscured by the repetitive punched arch windows in the masonry. Although these windows were misaligned across the four facades, together they give the entire structure a singular, monumental appearance, crowned by the muscular smokestack on the west elevation built out of radial brick.

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

Rather than navigating the misaligned floors and window sills across the combined masonry shell, PAU adopted a different approach: nesting a brand-new building into the existing envelope, with a 10- to 12-foot gap between the new and the old. By pulling back from the original walls, ideal and standardized floor heights can be achieved, creating best-in-class office space that is designed to meet the needs of new tenants. The array of historic windows, uninterrupted by interior partitions, reveal expansive views of Manhattan while allowing the extant structure to be appreciated in an unobstructed form. The light and airy perimeter provides a unique experience and enhances natural light penetration into the core. Rising above and in celebration of the historic structure will be a new glass barrel vault, echoing the American Round Arch Style and singular muscular form in which the original Refinery was rendered.

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Havemeyers & Elder Sugar Refinery, 1876