Jury prize

Eva's Phoenix, Toronto

Designed by: LGA Architectural Partners
For client: Client/Owner: Eva's Initiatives | Redevelopment Partner: Build Toronto Floor area: 3828.00 M² Year of completion: 2016
Awarded: Social Award Jury

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© Ben Rahn | A Frame

A skylit atrium 'main street' is the central circulation space in Eva's Phoenix.

About the Project

A precedent-setting adaptive reuse project, Eva’s Phoenix is a residence/skills training centre for homeless and at-risk youth. The design, which stitches together two previously divided warehouses in a 1930s heritage-designated former municipal waterworks, is organized around an expansive atrium that forms a ‘main street’. Ten ‘townhouses’ clustered around this street accommodate 50 residents in total. Each townhouse contains private bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a communal living space and kitchen. The townhouses face onto the internal street, which serves as the primary gathering space for this ‘community within a building’.

The layering of spaces enables residents to choose the level of integration that feels comfortable to them. Above one of the townhouse rows, the design team inserted offices and 'rooftop' meeting areas that provide humane, semi-private, light-filled spaces for working, meeting and counselling. With a demonstration kitchen on the ground floor and a full-service commercial print shop in the basement, Eva’s offers employment and life skills training to its residents, who can live in this shelter for up to one year. This is the second Eva’s Phoenix — LGA Architectural Partners also designed the original, which opened in 2003. When pending redevelopment made it necessary to relocate the first Eva’s, the client hired the firm once again to design their new premises.

What’s unique about it

Creating safe, uplifting, boldly non-institutional space was crucial. Careful layering between the private bedrooms, semi-private townhouse spaces, and internal main street enables residents to acclimatize to social interaction at their own pace. The design optimizes visibility and audibility, while creating an environment that feels secure.

A key challenge in this adaptive reuse of a building lacking exterior windows on two sides was a code requirement for bedrooms to have exterior fenestration. The designers worked with the building department to devise alternatives, such as opening up approximately 30 per cent of the roof with skylights. The design also integrates day-lighting with the lighting system to save energy - strategically located atrium ‘streetlighting’ turns on only when the natural light level falls below a set threshold.

To minimize cost and consumption, existing materials are exposed wherever possible and new materials were inserted only where needed. Light fixtures were salvaged from an about-to-be-demolished building and bedroom flooring was brokered donated by a supplier with remnant surplus stock. The City of Toronto is using Eva’s as the redevelopment catalyst for a block that will ultimately encompass a food hall, a YMCA, a new condo tower, and enhancements to an existing park. Carefully calibrated skylight fritting provides views of the sky from within Eva’s, but ensures that residents in the future condo tower will not have clear sightlines into the shelter.

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© Ben Rahn | A Frame

An understated entrance provides access to Eva's Phoenix, which occupies part of a 1930s former municipal waterworks.

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© Ben Rahn | A Frame

View of the west warehouse prior to renovation. The project interconnected two formerly separate volumes.

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© Ben Rahn | A Frame

New skylights flood the main street circulation space with natural light.

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© Ben Rahn | A Frame

Two-storey townhouses containing private bedrooms and shared common areas overlook the main street.

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© Ben Rahn | A Frame

View of a townhouse from the main street.

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© Ben Rahn | A Frame

Offices and meeting areas occupy the top floor of Eva's Phoenix.

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© LGA Architectural Partners

Cross section

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© LGA Architectural Partners

Multiple cross sections, showing how two previously separate warehouses were interconnected to provide a layering of public, semi-public and private space.

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© LGA Architectural Partners

Plans of the ground, second and third floors

LGA Architectural Partners

Blackwell (Structural Engineers)

Lam & Associates (M&E Engineers)

Fabian Papa & Partners (Civil Eng.)



David Hine


Don Shortreed

Somerville Construction

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