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A Look Inside Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Factory

By William Hanley
May 7, 2013
Photo courtesy Creative Time

A Beacon on the East River, with its neon sign capping a jumble of buildings that represent more than 100 years of industrial architecture, Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar factory has had few visitors since shuttering more than a decade ago. But last week, guests at a fundraiser for the public art organization Creative Time got a look inside one of its main buildings.

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The massive hall is slated to become the center of a cultural complex flanked by residential towers in a SHoP Architects-designed plan to redevelop the factory. Creative Time board member, Jed Walentas, a principal at Two Trees (the management firm behind the project), offered the space to the organization for the event. “It has always been on my bucket list of places to see,” says Creative Time president and artistic director Anne Pasternak.

The fundraiser honored artist Julian Schnabel whose work lined one of the room’s walls and whose sculptures stood guard at one end of the long rectangular volume. Rows of wooden tables ran down the center of the space—imagine a prep-school dining hall transported to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Lit by candles, their farmhouse rustic surfaces contrasted with the facility’s cold industrial materials.

To get to the event, guests had to pass a group of demonstrators protesting against Two Trees and the contractor it selected to remove asbestos from the site. (Like other projects on the Brooklyn waterfront, SHoP's plan for the Domino complex has been a magnet for criticism.)

Construction is slated to begin next year, but in the meantime, the public might get a chance to see inside the unrenovated space. Pasternak says Creative Time and Two Trees are exploring the idea of hosting programming there, but as of the event, she could not confirm any plans.

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