Potential SIte

I was looking for a place that has similar characteristic to my object. My Object is a light box with layers of white cards to create a white scenario on surface, but a total different effect in the dark with light on at the back. All kinds of texture would be in disclose with levels of brightness. With a unsure idea in my mind and didn’t know where to start, I looked through some projects that recently finished in New York that interested me, including the Highline and Lowline, both involved unused railway.

Lowline, first underground park
lowline, essex street market

That made me started to research the abandoned building/facilities in New York. And I found Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn, it was the largest sugar factory in the world, it was also one of the first five factories started up in Brooklyn. The factory was located in Willamsburg, Brooklyn. Brooklyn was an industry district since 18’s. All factories stood up by the waterfront for delivery and machine water cooling system. Williamsburg was a factories main low income neighbourhood and it still consider as low to middle class nowadays. Williamsburg is located within Brooklyn, connected to Manhattan through Williamsburg Bridge. A number of ethnic communities (Hispanics, Italians, Jews, Dominicans, African American) are living in this area. And it developed the area with different cultures and art. Local arts (graffiti and crafting), hipster and Indie rock music are popular in Williamsburg. Government is trying to develop that area to solve out the low income issue, however developments bring gentrification and rise up another problem – affordable housing.


The Domino Sugar Refinery Factory was sitting next to the Williamsburg Bridge, it was founded in 1816 and shut down in 2004. It played as a major sugar refinery factory that provided 98% refinery sugar for America in 1880’s. It had more than 200 worker worked in the factory at a time, the factory had operated for more than 100 years and generations for both the workers and residences. After the factory closed down 10 years after, May 2014, it opened to public to display an art installation by Kara Walker. The site is currently under a regenerate project by SHoP Architects, part of the factory had been demolished. By seeing those photos, it reminded me a scene from ‘The Intern’. Robert De Niro as a 70 elder was worked in a phone directory company before he retired and he joined a senior intern program to work in a fashion company. That company office was exactly the phone company before regenerated. He pointed out few spots to Anne Hathaway and explain what were there and said he would never forget the layout of the factory as he worked there for 40 years.

‘2737-42.  That was the number Robert Shelton punched into a clock at the Domino Sugar factory for 20 years. “As long as you live. You never forget. That’s my number,” Shelton says. And when he returned to the refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for only the second time since the factory closed in 2004, this time as a volunteer for Creative Time’s installation of Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety, Or the Marvelous Sugar Baby,” “I had tears in my eyes because it brings back the memories.” ‘ The Atlantic


More phots:http://www.paulraphaelson.com/portfolios/domino/#2

I’m on working an elevation cad drawing that contain different kind of buildings in Williamsburg as a study to understand more about the building scales and what the place Williamsburg is. I am not sure I would pick the sugar factory as my site, but I am thinking about that area as I want to unpeel that area to see what I will find behind low income and gentrification.

Capture cad




2 thoughts on “Potential SIte

  1. Both the factory and the Lowline are good choices to continue thinking about the manipulation of light and shadow and how your design project can build on the investigations you have been making. The factory has particular links to thinking about light and architecture. Factories were often designed particularly with light in mind as it was necessary to maximize the influx of natural light to work by. And so that the length of the working day and hence productivity could be maximised the adequate provision of artificial light was also an important consideration. The necessity of large open-plan spaces to accommodate machinery and facilitate flow between stages in production presented challenges of how light could reach central internal areas. Is there evidence of any of these considerations in the design of the Domino sugar refinery? And has the change in programme and any resulting changes to the building transformed the admittance and passage of light?

    The Lowline is a relevant case study for your project in its proposal to catch and direct light into a subterranean space. Could your drawing explore the multiple levels that the Lowline and the factory complex give to this area? Through the drawing you could then begin to explore the sources and direction of light across these multiple stories right down the the Lowline underground layer. Initially this could project the vertical and horizontal movement of day light across the factory, and the sun light harnessed and redirected by the lowline’s ‘remote sky’. An axonometric might give you more scope to explore this. It would be useful to find some plans for your Domino refinery site. The New York Public Library might be able to provide some direction on this http://www.nypl.org/node/171701

    Regarding your portfolio idea, we don’t quite understand the relevance of the onboard safety video to your project. Are you drawn to this video as you are thinking about a narrative, theatrical format for your portfolio? Have a look at the work of the scenographer Josef Svoboda http://socks-studio.com/2015/10/10/light-shadows-projections-set-design-by-josef-svoboda/ The design for Svoboda’s stage sets are highly considered arrangements that allow for the control of light, shadow and reflection. Like your light box study the stage set has a lot going on ‘behind the scenes’ which is hidden from the audience but controls all parts of the theatrical spectacle. Could your portfolio operate between the spectacle and the control, presenting the highly constructed arrangements you are making and dramatically revealing the workings of your designs and investigations?

  2. I am taking the comment and try to draw a axo section for the sugar factory and Lowline. However, I could not find any plans for the sugar factory from either google, New York Building Department Building Registration or New York Public Library. I also contacted the Columbia University Library librarian and they replied they only have information about the new development. I sent an message to New York Building Department to see if they have archive plans or any architectural drawing. At the meanwhile, I am drawing the elevation of the factory and Lowline, and maybe some internal space of the old factory.

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