Prolific landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations has managed to transform many desolate areas with its amazing park designs, but perhaps its crowning achievement will be Brooklyn’s Domino Park. Set to open to the public on June 10, the park — which was installed with reclaimed relics from the former Domino Sugar Refinery — has been converted into a quarter-mile long stretch of open green space running along the Williamsburg waterfront.
Working with Brooklyn-based Two Trees Management, James Corner Field Operations (the lead architects on the beloved High Line park in Manhattan) has taken great care to convert the former industrial area into a welcoming public green space for the Williamsburg neighbors. The stretch of land from Grand Street to South Fifth Street has been desolate for years, its vacant lots blocked to visitors with chain-link fences. Now, after an extensive renovation to create a community-tailored recreational area, the project is ready to welcome the public.
First and foremost, the master plan for the park’s design included a strong emphasis on historic preservation. Reclaimed sugar refining and industrial materials, as well as various timber pieces, are just some of the relics salvaged from the factory and placed in the park to pay homage to its origins.
The 1,200-foot-long waterfront esplanade runs the length of the east bank of the East River, providing visitors with incredible panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and the Williamsburg Bridge. For those looking to simply sit and enjoy the surrounding views, there are plenty of benches around the park, which were also made out of reclaimed wood from the factory.
The park’s expansive green space is separated into two areas, a passive zone and an active zone. For those looking for a relaxing day at the park, there is an urban beach where visitors can soak up the sun on lounge chairs. A Japanese Pine garden leads into an open lawn with a designated 100-person picnic area and a large playground. For those who love to be active, there is a full-sized volleyball court, two boccie courts, and a 6,300-square-foot playing field. Dogs are also welcome to stretch their legs in the spacious dog run.
At the heart of the park is a central gathering space, “Water Square.” Like most of the firm’s work, the greenery found throughout the park includes various sustainable plantings, as well as a mix of local and exotic foliage, flowers and trees. A four-tiered seating area with a water fountain provides visitors with a meeting place to enjoy the incredible views.
Next to the wooden seating, four salvaged syrup tanks from the refinery were installed as a whimsical “Syrup Tank Garden.” Overlooking the park is an elevated, five-block long walkway. “Artifact Walk” is made from various pieces of salvaged factory equipment, such as steel columns, crane tracks and tall cylindrical tanks.
During the ambitious project, Hurricane Sandy forced the planners to put resilience at the forefront of the design. Accordingly, the park is raised above the 100-year flood elevation levels and pushed back 100 feet from the water’s edge.
Images via Two Trees Management