Monday, February 04, 2008

GL Analysis: Domino's Nightmare in Glass Leaves a Bitter Taste


It's hard to know where to start in talking about the renderings that of the New Domino in Williamsburg designed by Rafael Viñoly. It's long been known that this would be one of the biggest mega-projects planned for Brooklyn, with 2,400 units of housing and towers up to 40 stories tall. Until now, however, the only thing available have been renderings showing building outlines. Our initial reaction upon seeing the renderings posted by Brownstoner on Friday was that we were looking at something that was in equal measures like Co-op City and Battery Bark City encircling the deeply altered old Domino Plant. Several days later, no matter how much we try to get used it, it still is not a pleasant aesthetic combination. There is too much density. There is too much building height. The architecture reminds us of an apartment complex one would find on the outskirts of East Berlin, had Communism survived into the 2000s and had the East German leadership become a bit more architecturally adventurous. As for the addition to the Domino Plant, the five-story glass box would make a mockery of the landmarking process.

We can't imagine that anyone on the Landmarks Preservation Commission could possibly vote to approve Williamsburg's Nightmare in Glass with a straight face and a clear conscience. It is an affront to the very concept of historic preservation. As for the overall project, we await clearer representations of Mr. Viñoly's buildings before deciding whether they are truly as distasteful as they appear to be in these early photos. On Friday, a commenter on Curbed said they look like Pez dispensers. We tend to agree.

We hope that community activists gear up to make their voices heard during the land use review process that will start later this year. A good place to start is by challenging this architectural attack on the Domino factory. It will so fundamentally change a landmark that it would almost be less painful if they had torn it down. It is wrong on many different levels.

The Williamsburg's Nightmare in Glass must go.

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