The repurposing of the Evergreen Brickworks has been hailed as a success since it first opened its doors in 2010, creating Toronto's first environmental community centre in the heart of the Don Valley. Inhabiting the former Don Valley Brickworks factory that supplied much of Toronto's historical red-brown brick over the centuries, the complex of buildings is notable for its heritage preservation, LEED Platinum addition, and active community uses.

One of the most important and noteworthy buildings on the campus is known as Building 16, better referred to as the Kiln Building, which housed the furnaces used to fire the bricks, and which has remained more or less untouched since the factory closed in 1984. While the industrial charm of the open-air Kiln Building has been a magnet for public events and urban explorers alike, Evergreen and the City were faced with the reality that this important heritage resource was left open to the forces of nature, which is particularly concerning given its location within a flood plain.

Aerial view showing the Kiln Building, highlighted in blue, image via submission to the City of Toronto.

Recently Evergreen has partnered with EllisDon, Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions, and CRH Canada to renovate and restore the Kiln Building to provide a year-round usable 2,000-person event and educational space. Led by LGA Architectural Partners with ERA Architects, Phase One of the project is now complete, which included the enclosure of the Kiln Building, the installation of a new raised concrete floor, the provision of a new heating and cooling system, and the construction of new washroom and catering facilities.

Rendering of the Kiln Building, image courtesy of Evergreen.

Sustainability is a cornerstone of the design approach to this renovation, with the design team aiming to achieve a carbon-neutral building. The Kiln Building has been enclosed with large, retractable glass doors which, along with new skylights in the roof, allow the building to be passively cooled and ventilated. The new enclosures also allow for year-round use, with a new combined geothermal and solar heating and cooling system providing environmentally-friendly energy during the colder months.

In order to protect the Kiln Building from flooding, the design team raised the floor nearly two feet while further raising sensitive mechanical and electrical equipment and materials sensitive to water above the floor level. Rainwater runoff from the roof will be collected into a cistern used for toilet water and irrigation, while plant swales and greenways around the building will divert runoff water to a nearby pond. Furthermore, a network of recesses provided in the floor allow Evergreen to quickly install portable pump systems as needed in the most extreme cases.

View of the Kiln Building under construction, image courtesy of Ben Rahn.

With all of the new interventions, the preservation of the heritage features became an important component of the project. All of the kilns are preserved in their current state, with even the graffiti being left untouched. Certain elements that needed to be covered or removed, such as the tracks embedded in the concrete floor, are marked and commemorated on the new floor to aid in heritage interpretation. The only impact on the heritage elements is a new opening in a wall with the introduction of an exhibition space called the Kiln Gallery, while new contemporary elements have been added within the space with the installation of a catering station, and the construction of a bank of universally accessible gender-neutral washrooms.

New floor plan of the Kiln Building, image via submission to the City of Toronto.

Following the completion of Phase One, Phase Two will get underway this summer with the completion and commissioning of the solar panels, the final touches on the Kiln Gallery, and the construction of a new mezzanine level hovering above the kilns that will house collaborative studio space for a new urban innovation hub dubbed the Future Cities Centre. More information on Phase Two of the project can be found here.

The Evergreen Brickworks complex will be open to the public for the Doors Open event this weekend, May 26 and 27, so check out their website here for more information. We will keep you posted as renovations to the Kiln Building start up again later this year, but in the meantime, you can read more in our database file for the project, linked below, tell us what you think by joining in on the discussion in the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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