On Sunday, Brooklyn’s newest waterfront destination, Domino Park, will open to the public. Designed by James Corner Field Operations, the six-acre site extends from Grand Street to the Williamsburg Bridge, occupying the previously inaccessible stretch of land anchored by the hulking 19th-century Domino Sugar Refinery, a beloved neighborhood landmark. Following the SHoP-designed 325 Kent—the first residential building to rise on the 11-acre Domino site—the park’s opening is the second step in the area’s redevelopment plan, which includes a forthcoming mixed-use tower by COOKFOX, as well as the refinery’s transformation into an office campus.
Despite its ties to the gargantuan private development led by Two Trees Management—which will bring 2,100 market rate and 700 affordable housing units, 600,000 square feet of office space, and 200,000 square feet of retail to the rapidly gentrifying Williamsburg neighborhood— Domino Park will serve as a public amenity.
Since its inception, the redevelopment plan has been a contentious topic among residents, many of whom wish to preserve Domino’s industrial past. James Corner Field Operations took great measures to root the new park in this history: steel beams were taken from the original refinery building and used as rail guards for an elevated walkway, and other artifacts, such as rusting syrup tins, were placed along the esplanade as sculptural items. A children’s playground takes the form of a miniature refinery plant, its climbing towers painted in the turquoise and yellow of the original Domino Sugar Factory signage.
In addition, an abundance of passive recreation and gathering spaces will now connect the greater neighborhood to the waterfront, including a 4-tiered seating area that offers views of the East River and the Manhattan skyline, a community garden, a dynamic water fountain feature, a dog run, two bocce courts, a volleyball court, plus a taco joint run by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Raised above post-Sandy FEMA flood elevations, the park incorporates a resilient design approach that includes a mix of nearly 175 plant species.
At Grand Street, the 42-story COOKFOX building is currently under construction, and work on the former refinery building will begin shortly. The development’s final building, located next to the bridge, is scheduled to break ground in 2023.