Architect: Diamond Schmitt Architects
Location: Toronto, Canada
Structural Engineers: Hallsall Associates
Construction Manager: Eastern Construction
Heritage Preservation: E.R.A. Architects
Site Area: 11,743 sqm
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Tom Arban
The Evergreen Brick Works project converts a deteriorating industrial site in the Toronto’s Don Valley into an important environmentally based community landmark to engage visitors in experiences connected to nature and city. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the Centre for Green Cities is the only new building on site. Achieving LEED Platinum certification, the building comprises a welcome center, retail and amenity space, administrative offices, and workspace for the program partners.
Exploiting the character of the historic site and its industrial legacy, the Centre for Green Cities is placed into the site of a former brick factory. Old brick walls, steel structures, and metal sheds are preserved and delineate the footprint of the building. Public functions such as event spaces and classrooms, are on the ground floor, immersed in the character of existing structures.
The second floor has a wrap-around balcony, occupying the space between an existing brick wall and the cantilevered floors above. The balcony offers exterior access to second floor classrooms as well as to Evergreen’s offices on the third floor, while providing an elevated view of both the Brickworks site and the visitor welcome center.
LEED Platinum status was harnessed by using three key strategies: a highly insulated building envelop to reduce heating and cooling loads, the use of natural ventilation to reduce mechanical cooling in the office spaces; and the right-sizing of mechanical cooling equipment to handle the assembly of office occupancies. Other interesting resource-saving measures include radiant floors, green roofs, heat recovery from kitchen exhaust and ventilation air, solar chimneys for natural ventilation, low-flush toilets, and the use of greywater from rainwater cisterns for the cooling-tower and toilet flushing.
The Evergreen project has created an environmentally-based community landmark within 16 heritage buildings on 4.9 hectares of brownfield land in the heart of the city’s ravine system. The Brick Works now incorporates educational programs for children and adults, a farmers’ market, a plant nursery, an adjoining park and wildlife habitat, an open-air industrial museum, and offices for Evergreen and like-minded organizations.