Giant cranes are hovering above the former Domino Sugar Factory refinery building in Williamsburg this week as they hoist live trees into place to create a vertical garden. The Domino Sugar Factory garden will be sandwiched in a 12-foot space between the historic brick facade and the new glass and steel office building being constructed inside. The vertical garden will line the entire perimeter of the 460,000-square-foot, formerly abandoned structure.
Seventeen 30-foot trees weighing 10,000 lbs each are being put in place around the building. These mature trees will be accompanied by vines and other plantings. Nathan Bartholomew, Director of Horticulture at Domino Park and formerly with the US Botanical Gardens, told Untapped New York that the unique nature of this garden space led him to pick very specific types of trees. “I prioritized trees with a specific narrow form,” Bartholomew said, “I chose two species: the American sweet gum tree for its slender silhouette and the native pin oak for its vertical green column. Height was also a key consideration – as we’re planting on the second floor, we selected 30 foot tall trees so tenants on the taller floors would be able to see and interact with all this greenery as well.”
Dave Lombino, Managing Director External Affairs at Two Trees Management, explained how this new vertical garden ties into the holistic approach of the Domino complex. “In addition to top-tier amenities and the convenience of working closer to where they live, the next generation of office workers are looking for a wellness-forward workspace,” said Lombino, “The Refinery will also be an all-electric building and one of the most sustainable in New York City, and our goal was to tie this together with indoor environmental quality through a green ecosystem of lush plantings, vines, and trees.”
“Over time as we care for the plantings, we expect the foliage to grow towards the glass,” Bartholomew explained, “so although the trees will be 5-8 feet from the window, especially on the second, third, and fourth floors of the building, tenants will feel almost as if they are inside of a tree, surrounded by greenery. We will also have beam planters of various heights and vines connecting the beams from the second floor all the way up to the tenth floor of the building.”
Refinery at Domino is expected to be complete in the next few months after a major restoration project that is turning the former industrial building into a Class A office building. The installation of the garden follows other recent milestones in construction, such as the return of the iconic Domino Sugar sign.
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