Steven Holl Architects to Design District Energy Centre for Waterfront Toronto

Waterfront Toronto today announced the selection of Steven Holl Architects (SHA) to design the 3500 square meter District Energy Centre in the West Don Lands, which will provide centralized heating and cooling to the first new waterfront neighborhoods of Toronto. The District Energy Centre is expected to go into construction by the end of 2008 and to deliver heating and cooling by the beginning of 2010.

Waterfront Toronto is a 2,000 acre area of largely publicly owned land – making it one of the greatest urban development opportunities currently underway in North America. As part of its mandate to make Toronto a global leader in sustainable development, Waterfront Toronto has committed to meeting all of the heating and cooling demands of its new waterfront neighborhoods 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 neighborhoods to be easily switched to more efficient and sustainable sources of energy. Steven Holl Architects is delighted to collaborate on the introduction of district energy plants in North America, where they are not common on a large urban scale as in parts of Europe.

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. Steven Holl states: ‘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. We hope to make the District Energy Centre a cultural and global symbol of sustainable development through an architecture that enacts the authentic connection of nature, society and humanity. The building will be inspiring in its design and excellent in its technical functioning.’ Among the many sustainable features of the design for the District Energy Centre Steven Holl Architects will include a green roof.

The building will function as an educational platform for sustainability that is informative both in its materiality, permeability and accessibility. ‘With the creation of the District Energy Centre, Waterfront Toronto intends to introduce this highly-sustainable technology to Canada in a visible and striking way through an iconic architectural expression of energy generation,’ said John Campbell, President and CEO of Waterfront Toronto. ‘Therefore, it is critical that the design of the building make a positive statement about the role of district energy in protecting the environment and educating the public about Waterfront Toronto’s efforts to build a green city.’

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, Steven Holl Architects constructed the New Residence at the Swiss Embassy according to Swiss “Minergie Standards,” higher standards than the U.S. Council for Green Building’s LEED standards for minimal energy consumption. In Beijing, the firm’s 200,000-square-meter Linked Hybrid complex – to open this summer – is 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 grey water system. The design for the Vanke Center (Shenzhen, China) is a vision of tropical sustainability for the 21st century, employing renewable energy such as solar power and geothermal cooling. 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.