Evergreen Brick Works

A cultural & ecological hub in the heart of the Don Valley

From 1889 to 1984 the Don Valley Brick Works was one of Canada’s pre-eminent brickyards, producing more than 43 million bricks a year. Evergreen, in partnership with the City of Toronto and the TRCA, selected a large, multi-disciplinary design team including architects, landscape architects, interpretive designers, engineers, ecologists and artists, to transform the abandoned site into an environmental education centre incorporating themes of nature, culture and community.

Led by DTAH, the team proposed the adaptive-reuse of all 16 buildings on site interconnected by new vibrant public spaces and native landscapes. The Centre for Green Cities, a new five-storey LEED Platinum building inserted on the base of a historic storage facility at the heart of the site, houses offices for Evergreen and other like-minded environmental organizations.

The team’s design strategy centered on the preservation the site’s unique industrial past and the marriage of that history with innovative sustainable design principles. Architectural interventions demonstrate a “light touch and loose fit” approach, ensuring flexibility as programming needs change over time. Discrete interventions combine with a network of bridges and walkways to connect the buildings together, allowing landscape to penetrate the site and reconnect its industrial past with the surrounding ravine landscape. 

The floodplain setting informed all aspects of the design, including raising the site by one-half metre, creating channels around the Centre for Green Cities to direct water flow, storm water ponds, an extensive native planting program, permeable paving and harvesting rainwater for reuse.


Toronto, Ontario




  • Canadian Green Building Council - Toronto Chapter, Innovation in LEED Award, 2014
  • Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, National Urban Design Award in Sustainable Development, 2014
  • Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, National Honour, 2013
  • The Chicago Athenaum/Europe, Green GOOD DESIGN Award, 2013
  • Congress for New Urbanism, Charter Award, 2013
  • Toronto Urban Design Awards, Award of Excellence, 2013
  • City of Toronto, Green Design Award, 2012
  • Illuminating Engineering Society, Toronto Section Award, 2012
  • Pug Awards, Best Commercial and Institutional Building, 2012
  • Canadian Institute of Planners, Great Canadian Public Space, 2011
  • Canadian Insistitue of Streel Construction, Award of Excellence, 2011
  • Planetizen & The Project for Public Spaces, Top 100 Public Spaces in the U.S. and Canada, 2011
  • Toronto Construction Award, Best of the Best Award for Project Achievement, Medium Category, 2011
  • National Geographic Magazine, Geotourism Challenge, Top 10 Finalist, 2010
  • Zerofootprint, Re-Skinning Award, Finalist - Small/Medium Commercial, 2010
  • Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction, Acknowledgement, 2008
  • Canadian Urban Institute, Brownie Award for Heritage and Adaptive Re-Use, 2006

The industrial legacy of the site remains intact, while its new legacy as a centre for environmental education adds yet another layer to the site's rich evolving history.

Evergreen Brick Works demonstrates the value of built heritage as architectural and cultural infrastructure of significant worth, and establishes an approach to the adaptive reuse of existing buildings that relies heavily on landscape to connect, inspire and transform a series of abandoned buildings into a rich and vibrant community hub.

There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else… so much nature woven with such intricate thoroughness through its (built) fabric.”

Robert Fulford
Author of Accidental City