Centre for Green Cities, Evergreen Brick Works

“This is a fine example of the reclamation and remediation of a large industrial site that successfully integrates architectural and environmental concerns. The retention and reuse of a disparate collection of existing structures gives the redevelopment a rich and unique character reflective of its industrial heritage. The new Centre for Green Cities building successfully combines a variety of passive design strategies most notable of which is the innovative approach to natural ventilation.”

2012 SAB Awards Jury Comments

The design of Evergreen Brick Works transforms a deteriorating industrial site in Toronto’s Don Valley into an environmentally themed community landmark and to engage visitors in experiences connected to nature and the city.

The adaptive reuse of the site’s “village” of 15 existing buildings formed the basis of the revitalization; the principals of “light touch and loose fit” ensures flexibility as programming needs change over time. Combinations of discrete interventions were used, and a network of bridges and walkways connect the buildings, allowing landscape to penetrate the site while maintaining its original character.

To capture the spirit of the historic site and its industrial heritage, the Centre for Green Cities knits the new building into and around the existing elements. Old brick walls, steel structures, and metal sheds are retained and define the footprint of the building. Preserving these features was one of the project’s key challenges, made more ambitious by Evergreen’s objective for a LEED Platinum facility.

The five-storey Centre serves as the head office for the non-profit Evergreen and like-minded social enterprise. The ground floor includes event space, classrooms, interpretative displays and a kitchen for cooking classes. It connects to the Young Welcome Centre, a multi-purpose space with the original brick press and foreman’s shed in situ.

Evergreen Brick Works demonstrates the value of built heritage as architectural and cultural infrastructure of significant worth, and demonstrates approaches to the adaptive reuse of existing buildings – all within an overall framework of sustainability. The industrial legacy of the site remains intact, while its new legacy as a centre for environmental education adds yet another layer to the rich evolving history of the site.

Client Evergreen
Completion 2010
Sustainability LEED Platinum Certified

Photography Tom Arban

Awards See all project awards
2014 National Urban Design Award, Sustainable Development
2014 Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) Toronto Chapter, Innovation in LEED Awards – New Construction Core and Shell
2013 OAA Design Excellence Award
2013 Congress for New Urbanism Charter Award, Global Award for Excellence in Urban Design
2013 Toronto Urban Design Award, Large Places or Neighbourhood Design, Award of Excellence
2013 The European Centre for Architecture Art Design & the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, Green Good Design Award
2012 Sustainable Architecture and Building Magazine Canadian Green Building Award
2012 Green Toronto Award
2012 National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), Real Estate Excellence (REX) Awards – Green Award of the Year
2012 Pug Awards, People’s Choice Awards for Architecture, 2012 Best Commercial and Institutional Building
2011 Canadian Institute of Steel Construction, Ontario Chapter – Award of Excellence, Green Buildings
2010 Zero Footprint re-skinning Awards, Finalist: Small/Medium Commercial
2008 Holcim Awards Acknowledgment Prize
Team See full project team