District Energy Centre

Waterfront Toronto

Top image District Energy Centre
District Energy Centre

Together with Steven Holl Architects, the team realizes the full potential of this special corner site to link West Don Lands to the historic vibrant Distillery District and the future Lower Don Lands. A series of public and publically accessible open spaces extend the brick-paved Distillery Passage through an enlarged Transit Plaza to an elevated park over the District Energy Center, ultimately extending alongside the adjacent schoolyard to the Don River Park.

The Transit Plaza with pergola and reflecting pool mark the new district’s entry from the Distillery District and the Lower Don Lands along the important Cherry Street corridor, and the pergola signals the new life of the neighborhood from passing rail trains, the TTC and surrounding streets.

The pergola and pool transform the Transit Plaza into a destination, a catalyst for the Distillery District’s vibrant life-extending across Block 8. Water in a public space is a universal attractor to people of all ages, a phenomenological mirror which intensifies the seasonal and atmospheric transformations. The pergola’s photovoltaic panels visibly drive the fountain as a demonstration in renewable energy, and the pergola’s colored underside, reflected in the pool and uplift at night through the water, gives a positive vibrancy to the space, especially on gray days and winter nights.

The street-level commercial of the block’s residential buildings will now front a beautifully landscaped and seasonally transformative south-facing public space – caf├ęs and restaurants will spill out onto this space in spring, summer, and fall. Fused with the pergola and pool the DEC green roof gives the West Don Lands residents a sunny south-facing elevated park overlooking the transit plaza and the trains.
Sustainable Urbanism: Given the urgent need to densify our cities while simultaneously increasing quality of life, ur­ban infrastructure must be re-thought as public green space with sustainable benefits.