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Domino Park

Brooklyn, NY USA

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Playground Overview

Inspired by artist Mark Reigelman’s interpretation of the historic Domino Sugar Factory, Landscape Structures designed it into playable reality. An intricate web of belting, nets and climbers lets kids scramble from the sugar shack up to the masher tower and over to the centrifuge. Stainless steel slides look just like industrial pipes. Casts of original factory valves are scattered throughout. And some of the wood was reclaimed from the original sugar shack, giving kids a tactile connection to history.


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Playground Details

  • Age Ranges

    • 2 to 5 Years
    • 5 to 12 years
  • Design Standards

  • ASTM
  • Installed

  • June 2018
  • Project Price Range
  • Pricing for custom playground equipment varies. For international and exact pricing, please contact your local playground consultant.

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Playground products shown in video may not be appropriate for every age group. Playsystems shown in video are for demonstration purposes only. Product configurations may vary.

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Site Specialists Ltd.
265 Post Ave Ste 265
Westbury, NY 11590
USA
Phone 516-338-1630
info@sitespecialists.net
www.sitespecialists.net

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Bringing Design and Creativity to Play

Former sugar factory site creating opportunities for social engagement

A 6-acre park in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., Domino Park is situated along the East River at the former site of the Domino Sugar Refinery. The park features an ADA accessible elevated walkway, beach volleyball, a bocce court and four-season turf field, two water features, a dog run and restaurant.

A huge piece of the project is the Domino Park Playground, which was designed by Brooklyn-based artist Mark A. Reigelman II. He was approached by Two Trees Management, the owner and operator of the park, to bring his design and creativity to the playground project.

“Two Trees really believed that the playground could be the social epicenter of the park,” said Reigelman. “And they wanted to do it right.”

Playground products shown in video may not be appropriate for every age group. Playsystems shown in video are for demonstration purposes only. Product configurations may vary.

Research Makes Perfect

Reigelman’s background is in industrial design, and design research has always been an important piece to his process.

“I used social media to reach out to parents,” explained Reigelman. “I asked about the things their kids are most excited to play with at playgrounds. I received hundreds of responses, and slides and swings, or swing-like things, rose to the top.”

“A play space can be as engaging for parents as it is for kids. Even if they're playing under the guise of helping their child.” Mark A. Reigelman II, artist

Additionally, he reached out to his family and friends to ask them what they, as parents, look for when visiting a playground. Even more, he borrowed a friend’s kid and went on a series of playground visits to observe the play experience at a variety of New York locations.

“I took all of that—the social media research, interviews and observations—and funneled it into the design.”

A Vision of Industrial Chaos

“My goal for the playground, conceptually, was pretty obvious,” explained Reigelman. “Research of the site revolved around the Domino Sugar factory. I saw documentation of the factory—tubes coming here and going there. It was beautiful industrial chaos and I thought ‘this is the playground!’”

That initiated the idea. Then Reigelman focused on how to lay out the play experiences in a way that was relevant and fixated on the sugar refinery process. Simplifying a very complicated process, Reigelman reduced the process to three main steps:

  • Step 1: Sugar cane - sugar cane enters the facilityand is cleaned, washed, cut and processed.
  • Step 2: Rotary filter - cut sugar cane goes through a series of hot liquid decanters and rotary filters.
  • Step 3: Centrifuge - centrifugal action is used at the end of the process to separate the syrup and sugar crystals into raw sugar and molasses.

“I wanted the kids to be like ‘What is going on? Am I allowed to be here?"

The design started with an industrial aesthetic and incorporated the above process, which lead to the creation of the three main play areas—the Sugar Cane Cabin, Sweetwater Silo and Centrifuge. And to help carry on the story of the factory as well as help with wayfinding, they used words from the original factory signage inside the playstructures.

“The idea is that children enter the playground as the raw sugar cane and exit as raw sugar ,” said Reigelman. “We want them to feel like they are part of the process.”

Reigelman collaborated with a team of experts including Landscape Structures to refine the playground design to ensure that it could be engineered to meet all the appropriate safety standards.

“It took weeks to figure out how we could design and engineer the ladders in the Sugar Cane Cabin in a way that met all necessary safety standards,” he said. “It was hugely collaborative to make it work out.

“The original napkin sketches are pretty darn close to what we ended up fabricating. The team involved was able to see the vision I was trying to achieve. It's great how consistent we stayed throughout the design and engineering process.”

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Nurturing Social Interaction

The feedback on Domino Park Playground has been wonderfully positive since it’s opening in June 2018. Rain or shine, the playground has been packed. Not only are the kids and their families enjoying the new play space, but people just passing by are amazed at the custom playstructure.

“You see the parents up there playing with their kids. And it's not because they're concerned about the safety of their kids… they are having fun.”

“The joy and the reward of having something like this in real space is amazing.”

“There is a cross section of people at this playground that is really unique,” said Reigelman. “Long-term Brooklyn residents of various backgrounds and borough newcomers are all gathering and enjoying the social experience and unbelieveable views. The playground is providing an opportunity for these parents and their kids to interact in ways that would unlikely to happen otherwise. That has been an awesome observation and has opened my eyes to the opportunity for public art and social engagement.”

Playground products shown in video may not be appropriate for every age group. Playsystems shown in video are for demonstration purposes only. Product configurations may vary.

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