PAU installs glass structure within Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar refinery shell

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Local architecture studio Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) has transformed the historic 19th-century Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn into a contemporary glass office building. Named the Refinery, the 12-storey structure is the centerpiece of the Domino Sugar Refinery site redevelopment project, which was developed by Two Trees Management in collaboration with SHoP Architects and Field Operations.

PAU aimed to create a functional office space while preserving the facade of the Romanesque Revival building. The original floorplan of the industrial factory made it impossible to simply adapt the structure. Instead, PAU designed a new glass building that sits behind the existing masonry, connected by metal beams. This configuration allows for natural light to filter in while creating space for a “vertical garden” between the brick wall and the curtain walls.

Key architectural details, such as the original smokestack, were preserved on the Refinery’s facade. PAU also incorporated original structural elements into the new design, including a cantilevered glass overlook that provides views of the Field Operations-designed parks on the site.

The Refinery offers 460,000 square feet of office space, with flexible floor plans to accommodate different needs. The penthouse is located underneath a vaulted glazed roof, providing panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and the Williamsburg neighborhood. The building operates on all-electric power.

The ground floor features a triple-height atrium lobby with retail spaces and amenities. An LED sign replicating the iconic Domino Sugar logo is displayed on the river-facing facade.

The Refinery is situated between two larger structures, including a pair of linked skyscrapers by CookFox Architects and two upcoming skyscrapers designed by Selldorf Architects.

The original Domino Sugar Refinery operated for 120 years until its closure in 2004. Two Trees Management acquired the site in 2012. A six-acre park by Field Operations now separates the developments from the East River, offering a recreational space for the local community.

Since completing the Refinery project, PAU has been commissioned, alongside HOK, to redevelop Manhattan’s Penn Station. The stunning photography of the Refinery project was captured by Max Touhey.

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