Changes are currently in progress on one of Evergreen Brick Works' most notable structures, as Building 16 (better known as the Tunnel Kiln and Dryer Building) is being retrofitted to house the new Future Cities Centre, adding to the repertoire of urban-focused initiatives on the Evergreen campus in the heart of Toronto's Don Valley parkland. With the Kiln Building Redevelopment, Evergreen is aiming to lead by example with an ambitious goal of creating a carbon-neutral building. The project is a partnership between Evergreen, EllisDon, mechanical engineers Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions, and manufacturing partner CRH Canada, while the design team is led by LGA Architectural Partners with heritage specialists ERA Architects. Upgrades to the Kiln Building being managed by Waverly Projects include the construction of two classrooms, new entrances and washroom facilities, a new gallery and exhibition space, and improvements to the building systems and envelope.

Rendering of the Kiln Building, image courtesy of Evergreen.

The Kiln Building is the largest structure on the Brick Works campus (coloured blue in the image below) and was constructed in 1956-57 for the purpose of firing and drying the bricks that appear in countless buildings across the city. It is currently used by Evergreen as an exhibition and event venue, but has largely been left untouched since Evergreen took over the closed Don Valley Brick Works property in 2010. The building still contains much of the old industrial equipment, including the kilns themselves, which will remain throughout the renovations. (Note that the image below, obtained via Preliminary Staff Report from the City of Toronto, mislabels the Bayview Extension as the Don Valley Parkway.)

Location of the Kiln Building, image obtained via report from the City of Toronto.

The alterations to the building are minimal in appearance but quite extensive in scope. New raised flooring with in-floor radiant heating was just completed this past month and now covers the majority of the ground level, which was previously finished with exposed rough concrete featuring embedded cart tracks running the length of the building. The next step in the project is a glass wall that will be constructed this fall along the west elevation where the Kiln Building is currently open to the Koerner Gardens, thereby sealing off the space from the exterior, though one large operable opening and several smaller doorways will be provided so that the space can still be opened up. Two new entrances will be created: one in the west elevation opening into Building 14, and one in the east elevation opening onto the east parking lot. As well, new roofing will be installed with new skylights along its length, and solar cells installed on a portion of the west elevation.

Proposed ground floor plan, image obtained via report from City of Toronto.

The most notable of the interventions will be the addition of two classrooms, referred to as collaboration studios, constructed on a new second floor level hovering above a portion of the brick kilns. Included on this level is an observation area overlooking the kilns below. As well, a new Drying Kiln Interpretive Gallery will be created and washroom facilities installed on the ground floor, and the entire building will be made to meet current accessibility standards. The large open spaces around and between the kilns will remain as exhibition and event areas.

Plan of the revised second floor, image obtained via report from City of Toronto.

The alterations to the Kiln Building were approved by City Council in January 2017, however, slight revisions have since been made to the proposal that will require further approval from Council. The new second level has been reconfigured to improve the layout of the studios and reduce the impact on the heritage building. In the initial proposal, the second floor protruded out of the roof of the Kiln Building, with a relatively small rectangular volume visible on the exterior. With the changes, the second floor is now entirely contained within the existing structure, and no new volumes will be visible from the exterior. The adjustments to the collaboration studios have been given the green light by the Toronto Preservation Board, meaning that the only step remaining is the stamp of approval from City Council. 

Original and revised building sections, image obtained via report from City of Toronto.

With the ambitious goal of carbon-neutrality, Evergreen is employing a host of innovative building systems for the heating, cooling, and ventilation of the building. Some of the new green features include: a solar thermal system integrated with a ground source system to collect and store heat during the winter months; low-temperature radiant floors; high-performance glazing combined with natural ventilation and passive chilled floors to minimize use of the mechanical cooling system during the summer; and an extensive list of envrionmentally-friendly building materials. More information on the green building features can be found here and here.

View of the new flooring under construction in May 2017, image courtesy of Evergreen and EllisDon.

In addition, Evergreen is aiming to set an example showing that heritage preservation and reuse is, in fact, a very green and sustainable option. The Kiln Building, a designated heritage building, will be nearly preserved in its entirety, including its thin uninsulated walls. The new building systems and spaces being added to the structure have been designed with both heritage and environmental protection in mind. The project had to overcome several other technical issues, such as its location within an extremely prone flood zone adjacent to the Don River for which an extensive stormwater management system was provided. The end goal of this ambitious project is to eventually render the entire Brick Works campus carbon-neutral.

View of the kilns prior to construction, image courtesy of Evergreen.

The Future Cities Centre is envisioned as a national hub for innovation and a centre for sustainable city-building. The centre comprises collaboration spaces, learning centres, and exhibit galleries with a wide-ranging focus on a number of urban issues, including housing affordability, urban fiscal health, governance challenges, regional growth planning, transportation and public transit, climate change, and extreme weather infrastructure resilience, among others. The initiative is supported by the Government of Ontario.

Rendering of the second floor observation area, image obtained via report from the City of Toronto.

With construction already underway, the Kiln Building renovations are targeting a Spring 2018 completion date, pending, of course, the final remaining approvals from the City. We will keep you updated as work progresses, but in the meantime you can get in on the discussion by checking out the associated Forum thread, or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.

ED NOTE: This is a second version of the original, expanded and re-edited.

Related Companies:  Claude Cormier + Associés, Diamond Schmitt Architects, DTAH, Evergreen, Ferruccio Sardella Landscape Architect, Parsons Brinckerhoff