Toronto

Evergreen Brick Works | ?m | ?s | Evergreen | DTAH

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AlvinofDiaspar

Guest
From the City of Toronto Admin. Committee:

www.toronto.ca/legdocs/20.../it031.pdf

Large report: 38 MB

Anyways, the cost of the project (hard and soft, plus endowment fund) is 50M and they've already raised over 30M.

Site and programmatic details are available in the report as an attachment.

AoD
 
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unimaginative2

Guest
Hume on the Brick Works

There's a pretty good rendering in the print version.

Planting a green vision at Toronto's obscure jewel by the Don River
Aug. 17, 2006. 01:00 AM
CHRISTOPHER HUME


Toronto is a city of secrets. One of the best kept is the Don Valley Brick Works, the former industrial site that occupies more than 16 hectares in the heart of the city. Today, it sits largely forgotten. Visited mainly by dog-walkers and hikers, it offers heritage and natural beauty in equal measure.

But if Evergreen gets its way, all this could soon change. The national non-profit environmental organization dedicated to "bringing nature and community together" has big plans for the Brick Works. If the group gets its way, the site will be transformed into a busy complex that includes markets, restaurants, teaching facilities, recreational opportunities and a green design showcase.

The scheme would cost upwards of $50 million and to that end a fundraising campaign has been launched. So far, $16 million has been pledged. Though the project itself remains something of a secret. Toronto City Council last month approved a 21-year lease for Evergreen. The Toronto and Regional Conservation Authority, which owns the land, has also approved the proposal. A master plan has been prepared by Toronto's architectsAlliance, but now detailed work can start. A call has gone out for that and Evergreen staff is looking for a landscape architect to pick up where the master plan leaves off.

Wandering through the Brick Works, it's not hard to see why Evergreen is so excited by the possibilities. Look in one direction, you see kingfishers diving into ponds, woods and natural beauty. In the other direction, there's more than a century of industrial history. Think of the Distillery District, but with greenery.

The largest building on site, which was closed in the 1980s, is a structure so vast it could contain a small town. During its heyday, it churned out 43 million bricks every year, bricks with which much of Toronto and southern Ontario were built. Though a good deal of the original equipment remains, the 19th-century building has fallen into an advanced state of decay.

Yet even before Evergreen starts working to turn it into a something useable, however, there's evidence everywhere of human occupation. It comes mainly in the form of graffiti, which seems to cover every interior wall, top to bottom. Despite being closed and bolted, the building has apparently been used for clandestine events — what used to be called raves — for years.

This is one community that won't like the changes now being proposed. Evergreen wants indoor skating in the winter, markets in the summer, an enormous plant nursery and much more, including a restaurant run by the ubiquitous Jamie Kennedy.

Given the success of the Distillery District, which operates without benefit of any big international chains, it seems clear that the Brick Works stands a pretty good chance of becoming a part of Toronto life. Like the Distillery, one of the main obstacles is psychological; though it's actually quite easily accessible, it feels isolated. In fact, it's on Bayview Ave. not far from Bloor. Ironically, the location in the Don Valley is both its greatest asset and its biggest drawback.

Toronto has always been strangely indifferent, even blind, to its geography, which means its valleys, ravines and, of course, its waterfront. Because of this, these areas have been ignored, dedicated to necessary but grimy industrial purposes or left undeveloped. The Brick Works is a perfect example; though parts of it have been cleaned up and are in regular use, it's fast becoming one of the city's most imposing ruins.

Hence the enormous potential of the complex, a remnant of the city's past updated and brought into the future. Aspects of nature and urbanity, new and old, melded into a unique whole and made relevant.

Given Evergreen's environmental mandate, the Brick Works remake would also address the growing interest in green building technology. This is an area in which Canada lags at least 20 years behind Europe and Japan. But Evergreen must also survive in the real world of economics and bottom lines. Though some public funding has been forthcoming — $10 million from the province, and, organizers hope, $15 million from Ottawa — it's not something on which the group can rely. To this end, the plan envisions the complex would include revenue generating office space as well as commercial operations.

Perhaps the most troubling question raised by the proposal is that of its success. In other words, what if Evergreen's every wish comes true and people start to show up in the thousands? Can the site handle the 250,000 or so visitors expected annually?

Already, much of the property serves as a parking lot. There's no doubt the majority of visitors will drive and more parking needed for fleets of school buses and countless cars. It won't be easy to balance what's left of "nature" and the hordes there to enjoy it.

That won't become a problem until early 2009, when the first phase is scheduled to open. Until then, the Brick Works can bask in glorious obscurity.
 
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building babel

Guest
The Distillery District acts like a shopping mall. I hope we don't do the same thing to the Brick Works.

Sure there are chains at the Distillery - three of the restaurants are run by one corporation and two others by another.
 
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alot more character

Guest
alot more character

those are silly complaints, even so at least they are keeping the same old generic fast food chains out, it has its own character that is totally different then the scarbourgh town center, malls gernerally are car culture orientated, while the distillary is outdoor and pedestrian, malls dont have festivals , art galleries, plus the distillary has to make money some how.
 
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tudararms

Guest
Re: alot more character

I've not really enjoyed the Distillery District on the few occassions I've been (except for the Yonge Centre). It has the feel of 'design by committee' that I don't really like. Everything feels overpriced and overwrought, and though the architecture is beautiful the site still feels isolated, and lacks a neighbourhoody feel. I hope it's still just finding its niche because I think the place has great potential.
 
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wyliepoon

Guest
I think any commercialization of the Brick Works is doomed to fail. The Brick Works are located in a part of Toronto that few people ever go to, unless you're a cyclist or a nature lover. It has terrible connections with the rest of the city (unlike the Distillery District which is integrated with the city). I don't think you can get there by TTC. The only future I can see for the Brick Works is as the park and education centre that it already is, plus a museum and/or an art gallery.
 
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building babel

Guest
Re: alot more character

The Distillery District is a yuppie Vaughan Mills for downtown. They bring in events at weekends - a farmer's market, an antique show, a craft show, a little circus - to try and draw in the crowds and drum up business that the mall can't generate. Other disconnected malls that you also have to go out of your way to get to - like Sherway, Yorkdale and Bayview Village - have antique shows, farmer's markets, arty-crafty shows, flower shows, fashion shows and the like for the same reason.
 
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Archivistower

Guest
Re: alot more character

I think that's a bit harsh. The people who put together the district have really attempted to get a mix of retail and galleries, Vaughan Mills doesn't have a theatre/school, doesn't have galleries at all (and there are many at the DD), and has not outdoor patios. (I'm assuming, I haven't actually been).

They've certainly made some mistakes - no bar, restaurants that are too upscale, and that Auto Grotto thing is terrible. Far from a Vaughan Mills approach, I think the retail is actually one of the weaker components of the district - not enough for a destination, but the type of stores that require a fair bit of traffic.

I'm not sure in their place what they I would have done differently. I don't think a McDonald's or Shoppers Drug Mart in the middle would rectify much.
 
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building babel

Guest
Re: alot more character

The owners of Vaughan Mills ( or did I read recently that there are to be new owners? ) also control parcels of land that surrounds the mall and part of their business plan is to bring in additional buildings - and services - to flesh out what already exists in the mall. Equivalent to the Distillery District getting a Clewes condo and a theatre perhaps?
 
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SD2

Guest
Re: alot more character

The Distillery District is a yuppie Vaughan Mills for downtown. They bring in events at weekends - a farmer's market, an antique show, a craft show, a little circus - to try and draw in the crowds and drum up business that the mall can't generate. Other disconnected malls that you also have to go out of your way to get to - like Sherway, Yorkdale and Bayview Village - have antique shows, farmer's markets, arty-crafty shows, flower shows, fashion shows and the like for the same reason.
I agree this is harsh as well. What were your expectations for the Distillery District? I was there in May and loved what I saw - it had really filled out and was quite lively. As Arch said, it isn't perfect. There's overpriced establishments, but then you can find those all over the city.

To encourage constant use, it was guaranteed there would have to be retail there - any area with retail is bound to have festivals, shows, etc. to encourage more spending. I don't see what's wrong with this. There are also a number of fairs, festivals and events for everyone.

Would you have preferred no retail at all? I'm not quite sure what you had in mind for the area.

Besides, in our commercial society couldn't you say all the city's a shopping mall?
 
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Archivistower

Guest
Re: alot more character

I've seen beautiful art at the DD with no admission fee. Surely that combination is one that BB is familiar with?
 
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SD2

Guest
Re: alot more character

I've not really enjoyed the Distillery District on the few occassions I've been (except for the Yonge Centre). It has the feel of 'design by committee' that I don't really like. Everything feels overpriced and overwrought, and though the architecture is beautiful the site still feels isolated, and lacks a neighbourhoody feel. I hope it's still just finding its niche because I think the place has great potential.
I think it will be connected sooner rather than later...covered in the West Donlands plan which is underway.
 
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building babel

Guest
Re: alot more character

I've been there several times and enjoyed it too, don't get me wrong. I'm glad it exists, and I'm hopeful time will be kind to it as the city engulfs it.

One of my friends is represented by Robert Birch Gallery - which moved out of there. It hasn't so far been very successful in establishing itself as a viable gallery district - other than for galleries with deep pockets - but I still check it out once in a while. I find the arty crafty stuff twee and not very original - "overwrought" as tudararms puts it, as do several of my friends who work in the visual arts.

It hasn't developed from a Queen West type of street culture because there never was any street life there, or any art schools, or university campus to create it, or any residential buildings to attract gentrifiers, so everything there has been parachuted in and is artificial. It is a tough slog to make something like that look like anything other than a glorified indoor/outdoor shopping mall, in my opinion. But it will evolve, of course, and I'm hopeful that it will improve. The theatre spaces are a huge boost.
 
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CanadianNational

Guest
Re: alot more character

The Distillery District is a yuppie Vaughan Mills for downtown.

Well now, that's a bit ridiculous. last time I checked, the Distillery District wasn't a soul-less, scale-less, drab conglomeration of quickie on-spec boxes marooned in a sea of parking.
 
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adma

Guest
Re: alot more character

I reiterate: the first time I experienced the "unveiled" DD several Doors Opens ago, I got this terrible feeling like I was going to run in to Homer + Marge + Bart + Lisa + Maggie there.

Once you develop that reflex, you *know* it's all just a little too stilted for comfort...
 

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