Hearn Power Plant Re-Construction

Hearn Power Plant Re-Construction

Project by Benisch Architekten, Los Angeles

CLIENT: Private

LOCATION: Toronto, ON Canada

OPENING: Competition - concept completed in 2008

PROGRAM: Ice rinks, fitness center, restaurants, retail, lockers

re-imagining the vestiges of an obsoleTE power-plant

The Hearn Power Station is a decommissioned power plant characterized by its 215m (2,000 feet) high stack, located on the periphery of the emerging Port Lands Developments and the network of trails and green space of Lake Ontario Park, adjacent to the Toronto waterfront. The immense size and unique site provides remarkable potential for an immense variety of uses and programming, to transform this complex once used to pollute its surroundings, to one where it sustains it.

Using the process set-out by an archeologist to decipher the structural and spatial arrangements of the Hearn, we were able to better understand how the Hearn once functioned, revealing inherent spatial qualities then used as a building organizing strategy. What was discovered were 8 floor-to-ceiling 42m tall atria spaces, footprints left by the engines, a two-story circulation spine, used to transport the coal that fed these engines, and an undisturbed 4 story 240 m long hall which housed the turbines used to generate power.

This discovery led to a variety of program opportunities ranging from Arts, Culture, Education and Sports along Lake Ontario. OACES (Ontario, Arts, Culture, Education, Sports) is a vision, where the Hearn is a hub that sustains the growth of Lake Ontario Park and the development of the Port Lands.


our process

There is a cathedral like aspect to this project, with its immense internal volume, that inspired a number of possibilities. Ultimately, we set-out to ensure that this once polluting structure became a symbol of  how anything can regenerate itself. We wanted the structure to be able to tell a story of healing and respect to the environment. Using the original building's spatial organizing principles as a starting point for the programming for the new facilities was a critical step toward our goal. 

Even at concept, we chose to work closely with environmental engineers to understand the life cycle of the building materials. The carbon offsetting that would result from the repurposing of the structure into a new design, even if for a very different program, showed to be of great environmental advantages.

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