The Evergreen Brickworks, formerly the Don Valley Brickworks, is a beacon of adaptive reuse in Toronto’s urban landscape. The former brick factory, built in 1899 (1) provided masonry for some of Toronto’s most prominent buildings, including Convocation Hall, Massey Hall, and Osgoode Hall (2), making it an important part of Toronto’s architectural heritage. The building is now under construction by Evergreen, with the principle architects being Du Toit Allsopp Hiller (master planning scheme), Diamond and Schmitt (the Centre for Green Cities building) (3). The goal is adaptive reuse: to re-purpose the existing post-industrial buildings into an environmentally-conscious community centre. The project uses as much of the original structure as possible, replacing only the necessary materials (for example the old roofing) and stabilizing the structure where needed. In this way, the building are recycled as much as possible, and the historical aesthetic of the Brickworks is preserved. The site is a large on, located in a major drainage basin with hills rising up around the complex. The north is entirely park and trail space, which overlooks the Brickworks. The sixteen building are cluttered on the southern “industrial pad” section of the site. All of different scales and sizes, the array of rectilinear buildings follows a vague grid, but to the visitor on the human scale, seem to be arranged chaotically, creating an almost dream-world of crumbling red-brick buildings rising out of uncontrolled greenery.
The complex, located in the Rosedale area, on Bayview avenue, is now open to the public, featuring a wide variety of community programming with more to come. Weekend farmer’s markets, community yoga, classroom, a Welcome Centre, plant nursery, art gallery, and office space are all currently open or are on the way. Evergreen has refocused this lost building into a site with a purpose, that purpose being “community, nature and culture”. With good planning, the Evergreen Brickworks will rise to a buildings of as much importance as that of it’s former self.
1 Don Valley Brickworks, The Company and It’s People
2 Don Valley Brickworks: Master Planning Study
3 Master Plan Update 2007 Evergreen at the Brickworks