Evergreen Brick Works

Toronto, Ontario

Photo Credit: Claude Cormier & DTAH


Initial Research by: Matthew Peters

Edited by: Samantha Miller & Nicole Brekelmans

Case study compiled in 2019



Project:  Evergreen Brick Works

Type of Urban StrategyGreen Cities, Industrial Landscapes

Type of ProjectHeritage / Master Plan / Plaza 

LocationToronto, Ontario 

Date Designed/Planned: 2006

Construction Completed 2010

Designer: DTAH, Claude Cormier + Associés, and Dougan & Associates


Evergreen Brick Works is an environmental educational centre focused on nature, culture, and community. The location of the project previously functioned as a brickyard and an industrial site providing opportunities for heritage preservation and site remediation. With an interdisciplinary team including DTAH, Claude Cormier + Associes, and Dougan & Associates, the project involved reusing the existing buildings while incorporating public spaces and native landscapes. In addition to the building reuse, the project also implemented the Centre for Green Cities, a 5-storey LEED Platinum building used for offices for Evergreen and other environmental organizations. 

The site also includes flood protection by raising the site, incorporating direct water flow channels, native planting, permeable paving, and rainwater harvesting with the excess water. These water strategies were carefully incorporated into the site to maintain the original character of the space. Sustainable strategies such as urban gardening, solar thermal energy, local sourcing, and recycling of materials were incorporated into the construction and the final function of the project to lessen the environmental impact. Evergreen Brick Works is heavily used by the public for events, a café, children’s play areas, and a farmers’ market to increase community engagement and education. 

(World Landscape Architect, 2013)



The Evergreen Brick Works resides on the Don River upstream from the Toronto Waterfront. On the site of a brick factory and mine site, this park was started in 1990. Surrounding the site are the neighbourhoods of Rosedale and East York (Claude Cormier, n.d.).


The site was acquired shortly after the discontinuation of production in 1990 and was immediately developed into ecological water filtration and cleaning system. This was accomplished by diverting mud creek through the sites old mining pits, which serve as natural filtration ponds and on into the Don River. Boardwalks and paths wind their way through this area as well as adjoining meadows and woodlands allowing access to this functioning landscape. The brick factory buildings themselves are preserved and repurposed and contain programming for visitors including information on the industry of the 20th century as well on sustainable living (WLA, 2013).


The site was formerly the Don Valley Brick Works, which opened in 1989 and operated for 100 years. It used clay rock and mud mined on site or taken from the river to create its products which were used to construct many brick buildings in Toronto. It is also here on site that historical glacial information was unveiled through the mining process including fossils and important ancient soil and rock data. This discovery led to the realization that two major glacial events occurred in the area instead of the previous assumption of only one (Claude Cormier, n.d.).


The goal of the project is to educate visitors on the viability of sustainable functions in the urban setting as well as equip them with access and the knowledge to implement them into their own lives. The design succeeds by educating through example both through the large-scale ecological remediation process as well as exhibits on other possible sustainable solutions to urban problems (DTAH, n.d.).


The initial design was to clean the water flowing through the site and to regrow the lost vegetation on site, encouraging a rich habitat for both flora and fauna to thrive together. This was done both for its ecological and education functions but also allowed for increased access to wilderness in the middle of Toronto that had been lost in the Don Valley. The decision to turn this former industrial site into a public space was done in order to not console Torontonians about industrial guilt but to show them what is possible with some investment and persistence in their own communities (WLA, 2013).

In addition, and to bolster their goal Evergreen decided to keep the factory buildings in a semi retained state in order to demonstrate the history and unsustainable practices of the former site as another educational tool not as a nostalgic memorialization (DTAH, n.d.).


This project has been extremely successful which is proven by a large number of people who flock to its grounds for different events and programming that they enjoy and utilize to live a more sustainable and fun life. Being a bustling enjoyable place from the morning into the evening attests to its impact on the community giving them a safe place to raise a family and at the same time educate on better urban living practices (Claude Cormier, n.d.).


Evergreen/Brick Works. (n.d.). Retrieved May 21, 2019, from https://www.claudecormier.com/en/projet/evergreenbrick-works/ Evergreen Brick Works | DTAH. (n.d.). Retrieved May 21, 2019, from https://dtah.com/work/evergreen-brick-works Evergreen Brick Works | Toronto Canada | DTAH / Claude Cormier Associés / Dougan & Associates. (2013, October 30). Retrieved May 21, 2019, from https://worldlandscapearchitect.com/evergreen-brick-works-toronto-canada-dtah-claude-cormier-associes-dougan-associates/#.XOQqui0ZMmJ


The site contains many programmed elements as it is both a centre of sustainability as well as a gathering place for events and fun outings. The building complex consist of the following programs:

-Center for green cities: main sustainability education attraction on site

-Garden fed Market


-Bike Shop

-Bike Works: learn to ride and fix your bike as well as go on group rides

-Children’s Garden/Day Care: where children are encouraged to play and be creative

-The Kilns: historical museum

-Skating and outdoor gathering place

-Pavilions: contain farmers market, winter market and more programming

-Brick Works Park: wilderness walk, look out spots and educational ecological walks

-Recycling Center

(WLA, 2013)


Evergreen funding initiative promotes sustainable living in urban places (WLA, 2013).


Maintenance of the site is conducted by the non-for-profit organization, Evergreen, who keeps the site in a healthy condition in order to continue to accommodate for its large volume of users as well as many programs (WLA, 2013).