The historic 53,000-square-foot building is a gathering space to celebrate urban innovation while showcasing the history of the site.
Through the redevelopment, the historic kiln building has become a test site to advance and accelerate the shift to more sustainable construction design and practices. Evergreen and its partners have worked together to offer new possibilities for developing sustainable cities while ensuring that the historic features are preserved. Upon completion, the project will enable the Evergreen Brick Works site to be one of the first carbon neutral sites in Canada.
Since 1889, the bricks produced at the Don Valley Brick Works helped build Toronto’s skyline and can still be found on buildings like Massey Hall and Old City Hall. Abandoned 100 years later, the Brick Works legacy continued in many roles and every effort was made to preserve and showcase that story:
- When the Don Valley Brick Works factory was abandoned in 1989, the vacant buildings were a blank canvas for ravers and graffiti artists. During its restoration almost 30 years later, Evergreen took great care in capturing this period of history.
- The industrial brick kilns at the south end of the TD Future Cities Centre are the backdrop for the CRH Gallery, an incredibly versatile space for weddings, festivals, markets and other events.
- Only one area of the historic structure was altered. A small section of wall on the north end of the building was meticulously cut to create an intimate exhibition space known as the City Builders Gallery. The inaugural exhibition Urban Imaginaries by Toronto artist Ferruccio Sardella with Nathan Whitford of Urban Visuals explores the defining moment in the history of a city.
The design of the floor focused both on sustainability and paying homage to the past with a feature replicating the heritage kiln track systems. The kilns, and the tracks that served them, were in operation from 1957 until the factory ceased production. The tracks enabled metal carts – holding upwards of 1,110 bricks at a time – to be moved throughout the Brick Works site.
This project offered a unique opportunity to drive change in advancing sustainable cities by incorporating green techniques and low-carbon design and construction practices.
Since the initial stages of the transformation in March 2017, some of the green design features include:
- Solar thermal integrated with the ground source system to collect and store heat for use during the winter months
- A high efficiency, renewable and geo-exchange system to heat and cool other buildings on site, creating a near zero carbon campus
- Unique raised cavity floor system in combination with low impact landscape design strategies for flood and stormwater management
The redevelopment of the kiln building is in partnership with construction lead EllisDon, manufacturing partner CRH Canada, and the design team led by LGA Architectural Partners in consultation with heritage design specialists ERA Architects.