In 2011 a large storm water outlet and chamber was installed at the southwest trailhead in the Don Valley Brickworks; which created an unwelcoming presence at one of the most used entrances into the Quarry Gardens. The Planning Partnership was retained to design a gateway feature that would camouflage the storm water outlet and chamber, provide a comfortable seating area and act as destination. The resulting observation deck seamlessly hides the storm water outlet and chamber and establishes a welcoming entrance for visitors.
The Don Valley Brick Works is one of the Toronto’s most valued natural environment parks. The successful transformation of this former quarry site into a recreation amenity over two decades is the result of strong collaboration between government stakeholders and local citizens groups. Members of The Planning Partnership have been involved with this initiative for over two decades; through built projects, plans and studies that have helped shaped the Brick Works into the landmark it is today. Sponsored by the Weston Foundation, the observation deck is the most recent intervention in the park by The Planning Partnership and is the main gateway to the Quarry Gardens. The deck responds to grade challenges on the adjacent trails and staircases through a series of ramps, seating walls and steps. The front elevation of the deck welcomes visitors with two steps that are flanked by a flamed finish charcoal granite wall engraved with “Weston Family Quarry Garden.” The granite wall hides the elevation difference between the pond edge and top of storm water chamber.
The surface of the deck is a combination of IPE wood and a steel grating that creates a variety of interesting seating areas. The large sunlit seating area on the wood deck accommodates several bright red Muskoka chairs that are heavily used for picnics, reading and quiet reflection in the natural environment. Two shade trees are inset in the wood decking to provide dappled shade for users sitting on the large limestone benches. The limestone benches frame the change of surface materials and are a common seating element in the park. The steel grate area of the deck cantilevers over the quarry pond, allowing users to look below their feet at the fluctuating pond edge, lilly pads, resident turtles and a mix of white and dark grey river stones. The cantilevered area of the deck provides dramatic views of the quarry gardens and historic industrial brick buildings.
The observation deck is a wonderful addition to the park and is both a popular space for outdoor classrooms, summer camp programs a space for quiet reflection.
The Don Valley Brickworks Quarry Garden Observation Deck
Toronto, ON, Canada
Design Firm | The Planning Partnership, Designer David Leinster and Tonya Crawford
Consultants | Quinn Dressel (structural), City of Toronto (Client), Hobden Construction (contractor)