Founded in 1889, the Don Valley Brick Works became one of the largest and most significant brick manufacturers in Canada, relying on locally extracted clay, shale and sand. Many of Toronto’s landmark sites, like Massey Hall, Old City Hall, Casa Loma, and the Royal Ontario Museum were constructed with Don Valley’s award-winning bricks. After one hundred years of operation, the Brick Works closed in 1989.
The Evergreen Brick Works project has transformed the under-used and deteriorating buildings into an education centre with programs related to the themes of nature, environmental sustainability, culture, and community. The facility builds on the work of the City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), the site owners, who transformed its quarry into a large park. This collaborative project demonstrates clearly the deep relationships between heritage conservation and sustainable practice. Developing these relationships represents an increasingly important aspect of ERA’s practice.
ERA’s ongoing stewardship of the Brick Works site has included:
A master plan, produced in collaboration with Evergreen and architectsAlliance, creating a framework philosophy of “light touch” and “loose fit.” This framework conserved the heritage fabric as “embodied energy” and intervened only when necessary to make the site safer and ready to be used.
Minor interventions such as selective repairs to masonry, woodwork, and roofs; stabilizations and repairs to foundations and trusses; installation of water management features such as new flashing and rainwater leaders.
Site-wide collaborations with Diamond Schmidt, DuToit Alsopp Hillier (DTAH), and Claude Cormier to unite heritage conservation and sustainable reuse, including Renovation of Building 12 with energy-efficient envelope, green roof technology, and solar chimneys that draw heat from the building in summer.
Adaptive Reuse of Building 16, as a national hub of collaboration spaces, learning centres and exhibit galleries. The intention is to develop a low-carbon, high-efficiency venue, demonstrating sustainable place-making at its best. Read more about this aspect of the project.
Implementation of a system of ponds and bio-swales that provide water for site irrigation, washrooms, and cooling technology.
An interpretation plan for on-site and online educational resources, exhibits, and content, bringing together concepts of geology, history, industry, community, and sustainability.