Iconic yellow ‘Domino Sugar’ sign returns to Brooklyn

December 21, 2022

Photo by Wes Tarca

An iconic sign that was part of the Brooklyn skyline for nearly a century has returned to its rightful place. A replica of the 40-foot Domino Sugar sign was installed and fully illuminated this week atop Williamsburg’s Domino Sugar Refinery building, which was part of a massive sugar factory that operated from the 1880s to the early 2000s. Located at the 11-acre Domino Sugar redevelopment, the landmarked 19th-century building is currently being transformed into a modern commercial building.

Rendering courtesy of Two Trees Management

The Domino Sugar Factory opened in the late 1880s and became one of the largest refineries in the world, producing more than 5,000 barrels of sugar per day and employing more than 4,500 workers during its heyday. The plant closed in 2004 and after redevelopment plans from Two Trees Management were approved, work at the site began in 2014.

While most of the site was demolished during construction, the landmarked Domino Sugar Refinery building built by Henry Havemeyer is currently undergoing an adaptive reuse project led by Practice for Architecture and Urbanism. The unique development includes a new 15-story glass building with 460,000 square feet of office space set within the brick facade of the historic structure.

The office building, dubbed the Refinery at Domino, will feature a glass dome penthouse that rises above the Domino Sugar sign. Expected to open for occupancy in the fourth quarter of 2023, the Refinery at Domino will offer tenants an amenity floor with open workspaces, private conference rooms, an indoor vertical garden, a dedicated bike lobby, and a fitness club with a pool.

Completed Domino Sugar projects include a 16-story rental at 325 Kent Avenue, which opened in 2017, the six-acre green space Domino Park, the rental tower One South First, and office building Ten Grand Street.

Two Trees worked with “signage specialists” to analyze the original sign and create a replica that remains as true to the first sign as possible, according to a spokesperson.

The sign is not neon like the original one, but instead is LED, which is brighter and also more environmentally friendly. Plus, the aluminum is lighter, making it safer to top the new glass building. The yellow letters were designed to match the original dimensions, with “Domino” measuring about 23 feet tall and “Sugar” nearly 10 feet. Together, the height from top to bottom of the S is just over 43 feet, and the width is 65 feet 8 inches.

Photo of the sign installation in progress

“It’s exciting to have a sign back,” Ward Dennis, a former member of the local community board and Domino Sugar Factory historian, told the New York Times. “Everybody going up and down the F.D.R. Drive remembers seeing it. Coming across the Williamsburg Bridge, there was always that Domino’s sign to welcome you home.”


Photos courtesy of Wes Tarca

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