Much of Toronto is built from John Price bricks made from clay dug at the Don Valley brickworks from 1889 through 1984. Now a $ 55 million environmental and architectural makeover has been announced for the site. Robert Oullette writes "For more than a generation now one of Toronto's most compelling public spaces has remained hidden in full view of the thousands of commuters who travel along the Don Valley. The Brick Works, figurative birthplace to much of old Toronto's red-orange patina, sat waiting for a purpose worthy of its potential. Then along came Geoff Cape and Evergreen ("Imagine your city with nature") and everything changed. Infused with a green vision for the city, Evergreen imagined the rusting buildings and gouged earth on the site as an ideal test bed to research urban-based environmental change." ::ReadingToronto
Seven design firms, including landscape planner du Toit Allsopp Hillier and architects Diamond and Schmitt collaborated on the plan, which involves transforming 16 aging industrial buildings formerly used to make bricks.
Those buildings are currently "a giant swath of asphalt," according to Joe Lobko, a partner with duToit Allsopp Hillier and lead designer on the project.
"The first thing we have to do is heal the site and create a range of outdoor public spaces," Lobko said. ::CBC
But the jewel in the crown is the new welcome centre and administration building (pictured above), designed by Diamond + Schmitt Architects.
The addition, which will be constructed atop the original walls of Brick Works building 12, is unique from all angles. It reflects Evergreen's desire for the new design to blend in among the existing buildings, all but one of which are designated as historic sites by the City of Toronto.
"It's a new insertion that looks like it's been there a while," said architect Michael Leckman of Diamond + Schmitt.
The north and west walls feature a sliding track system, which allows for a movable and changeable ''skin'' to be displayed on the exterior of the building.