ABOVE New design elements like steel, concrete, light wood, and terra cotta were integrated with the
restaurant's original finishes to create a simple yet vibrant vibe.
BELOW Handcrafted custom-designed lighting fixtures illuminate SUGARCANE's beauitful wood ceiling
creating a sense of intimacy and warmth for diners.
OLD IS NEW
Historic buildings offer unexpected and winning settings for
hotels and restaurants. Learn more about how design
professionals make them sing.
By Nancy J. Ruddy
Captivating hospitality venues set in buildings converted from other uses create magical new experiences by celebrating the spirit and heritage of the existing structure or, in some cases, creating an attitude that never existed. The design
approach will be determined after careful evaluation of the existing building
conditions and the proposed new use. For buildings where the existing
architectural fabric is historically significant or uniquely valuable, the key is
to let the original spirit of the building shine through.
As an example, CetraRuddy recently reinvented an interior space within
a fortress-like 19th-century warehouse complex in the lively Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, N. Y. Known as Empire Stores, a vestige of the old
working harbor, its seven Romanesque brick volumes of arched windows
and battleship-gray shutters are constructed of handcrafted masonry,
schist bearing walls, and heavy timbers. For decades the noble structure
sat vacant. Today, it houses West Elm’s headquarters, boutique retailers, a
glass-lined atrium, and a lively promenade along the East River full of tourists and city dwellers enjoying its nearby park and Manhattan views.
Most recently, the complex welcomed SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill,
the vibrant and energetic restaurant brand by the creators of SushiSamba.
The design of the restaurant carries the essence of the CetraRuddy-designed flagship in Miami while advancing its spirit to New York, the
Brooklyn waterfront, and the amazing building that houses this new venue.
In monumental and historically resonant spaces, let the authenticity and
beautiful bones of the existing space shine through. New design elements
should enhance the existing spirit and heritage of the space while
maximizing functionality for its new use. For SUGARCANE Dumbo’s
11,000-square-foot interior and 2,000-square-foot terrace, original finishes
were meticulously cleaned while adding steel, concrete, light wood, and
terra-cotta elements. Contrasting its simple yet handsome solidity are
furnishings and finishes with vibrancy: banquettes and a bar in bright color
ensembles and a glowing blue open kitchen.
New design elements in historic settings should also highlight the venue’s
mission and vision. For SUGARCANE, the interiors reflect the cuisine
through textural and crafted detail and subtle color ensembles. The entry
experience is framed by a metal-paned screen infilled with eight different