March 13, 2008
by Canadian Architect
Waterfront Toronto recently announced the selection of Steven Holl Architects (SHA) to design the 3,500-square-metre District Energy Centre (DEC) in the West Don Lands, which will provide centralized heating and cooling to the first new waterfront neighbourhoods of Toronto. The DEC is expected to go into construction by the end of 2008 and is expected to deliver heating and cooling by the beginning of 2010. Waterfront Toronto is a 2,000-acre area of largely publicly owned land. It has committed to meeting all of the heating and cooling demands of its new waterfront neighbourhoods through a centralized district energy system. An interconnected network of underground pipes will extend to every development parcel in the new waterfront precincts, and all new buildings will be required to rely on this system. Although initially these plants will be natural gas-fired, they will be designed for eventual conversion to alternative fuels when they become approved for urban use. Creating the centralized system now will, thereby, “future proof” the waterfront by allowing entire neighbourhoods to be easily switched to more efficient and sustainable sources of energy.
Steven Holl Architects was selected for the District Energy Centre because of its design ability and its philosophy that sustainable building and site development is fundamental to innovative and imaginative design. According to Steven Holl, “The 21st century presents us with one-third of the earth already developed, much of it in sprawling waste. A fundamental change of attitude, a revisioning of values must take place.” Chris McVoy, Senior Partner at Steven Holl Architects, states, “We are excited by the opportunity to weave public green space and sustainable infrastructure together as a new urban prototype.”
For years, Steven Holl Architects has emphasized sustainable building and site development as fundamental to innovative and imaginative design, incorporating green roofs, double walls, and advanced mechanical systems. In Beijing, the firm’s 200,000-square-metre Linked Hybrid complexto open this summeris heated and cooled by a 660-well geothermal energy system, the largest residential geothermal system in the world, and employs green roofs and a separate greywater system. In 2007, the Whitney Water Purification Facility and Park was chosen as one of the exemplary Top Ten Green Projects by the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment. The Whitney Water Purification Facility and Park (2005) features the largest green roof in Connecticut, zero off-site storm water discharge, expanded wetlands for biodiversity, and geothermal heating and cooling.
Steven Holl Architects (SHA) is a 65-person architecture and urban design office founded in 1976, and working globally as one office from two locations New York City and Beijing. Steven Holl leads the office with partners Chris McVoy (New York) and Li Hu (Beijing). Bortolotto Design Architect Inc. (BDA) of Toronto will be collaborating with SHA, especially during the working drawings and contract administration phases. BDA was established in 1999, focusing largely on public projects, corporate interiors and private residences, locally and internationally offering architectural and interior design services. The eight-person firm is committed to the integration of sustainable and leading-edge technologies. A significant concentration of the work is for government and educational institutions, reflecting the firm’s understanding of the complexities associated with public buildings and the public realm and their commitment to improving the quality of these places. Recent projects include the Rotman School of Management’s South building at the University of Toronto and the award-winning Virtrium, a facility for the Engineering Society at the University of Toronto.