In Toronto, the Scott Street Generator project by civic design specialists RDH Architects brings an architectural rigour to the city's often neglected infrastructure. Wrapped in a distinct aluminium façade, the emergency power generator is an important piece of the urban fabric and encourages curiosity from the public.
Situated at Toronto's westbound Gardiner Expressway off-ramp to Young Street, this new generator tower is adjacent to the historic and now decommissioned Scott Street Interlocking Signal Tower. Built during the 1930s for the CPR, the design by John Wilson Orrock, the Chief Engineer of Buildings, features Italianate round-topped windows, a square tower, and a hipped roof. It is a significant piece of heritage infrastructure and inspires the new generator.
The architect's approach to designing the new generator began with carefully analyzing heritage architecture to guide and inform the enclosure's scale, footprint, and elevational composition. The resulting scheme is a formal interpretation of the existing tower, with three corresponding datum lines of lightly polished aluminum, subtly opening and closing to allow ventilation and partial views into the shrouded piece of infrastructure architecture.
The building is essentially passive, with only ventilation and cooling through the façade panels, which can be opened or closed in direct response to the generator's requirements. Materials were selected for longevity over time, and energy-efficient LEDs were specified throughout. Daylight and occupant sensors reduce the amount of energy used throughout the day.
The space between the old and new structure is designed to include a green-planted urban wall.
In summary, the Scott Street Generator is a compelling urban object honouring a heritage asset while presenting a contemporary breathing sculpture within the industrial landscape.