Site Study: LaFarge Cement/Toronto Portlands

with Grace Yang and Rui Felix
01_Conceptual Diagram

Heavy industry refers to the processing and refinement of raw materials to produce a higher, usable form of energy to sell to other manufacturing or processing companies. Capital intensive, heavy industries use external energies such as water or fuel to convert these resources, which in turn, produce waste such as exhaust and fumes. They are as thus usually located near bodies of water, downwind of where most people live and work, and in North American cities such as Toronto that industrialized early in their formation, near the initial core development of the city. Since heavy industries must ship, receive, and shape large amounts of resources, their proximity to major transportation routes by water or land is a key armature of their extended landscape. The heavy industrial landscape is usually made up of a conglomeration of more than one industry in close proximity since their environmental impact is so high. These sites are characterized by a lack of green or open space, high compaction and soil/water/air contamination.

00_Portlands Feature Image


Verb (from concrescere): To form by coalescence, or cohesion of particles; run into a mass, congeal, to grow together with, combine

Adjective: United or connected by growth; continuous; made up or compounded of various elements (and therefore implied solid…)

concrete poetry: a form of poetry in which the significance and the effect required depend to a larger degree than usual upon the physical shape or pattern of the printed material


In Toronto, concentrations of Heavy Industry were historically centered near the lake and upstream on the Don River. Examples of these sites include the Don and York Mills, the Don Valley Brickworks, the Redpath Sugar Factory, the Donlands, the Distillery District, and along rail corridors.


The Lafarge Concrete Terminal, located at 54 Polson St. in the Toronto Harbour Industrial District is the site of investigation, serving as an example of a heavy industrial landscape in Toronto because it is still operational and it plays a crucial role in the redevelopment plans of the area. The scalar investigation reveals differing levels of detail, building a picture of the networked to intimate roles that concrete plays as a building material, processing site, and site of geological extraction.


Clockwise from Top left:
30 Walmer Road, Toronto City Hall (Concrete Ideas), CN tower (Concrete Ideas), Annex sidewalks, Medical Sciences Building (Concrete Ideas), Gardiner Expressway, Initials in Sidewalk (


0. “Concrete,” accessed December 10, 2013,

1. “Lafarge Bath Plant: Concrete Connection,” Lafarge, accessed December 8, 2013

2. “Welcome to the Neighbourhood,” Lafarge, 2010, accessed December 8, 2013

3. “Building Better Cities,” Lafarge, 2013, accessed November 5, 2013

4. Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines,“Bedrock Geology of Ontario Southern Sheet,” map.

5. “Shipping Lanes,” accessed October 15, 2013,

6. Desfor and Laidleys, Reshaping Toronto’s Waterfront.

7. “City of Toronto Zoning By-law 569-2013,” accessed December 9, 2013,

8. “Chapter 60 Employment Industrial,” accessed December 9, 2013,

9. “Concrete Contractors,” accessed December 9, 2013,

10. Google. “Toronto, Ontario.” 2013. Google Map. accessed October 16, 2013

11. Desfor and Laidleys, Reshaping Toronto’s Waterfront.

12. City of Toronto, “Heritage Shoreline Evolution,” ESRI shapefile, last modified August 6, 2013, accessed October 30, 2013,

13. The City of Toronto, TRCA, Waterfront Toronto. “Port Lands Acceleration Initiative 2013,” 2013.

14. Jennifer Leigh Bonnel, “Imagined futures and unintended consequences : an environmental history of Toronto’s Don River Valley,” (Doctoral thesis, University of Toronto, 2010), 108-123,

15. Michael Cook, “Channelization of the Lower Don River,” print, 2012, accessed December 10, 2013,

16. Hayes, Historical Atlas of Toronto.

17. Google. “Toronto, Ontario,” 2013.

18. DelVecchio, Henry. Lafarge Lead Hand. Interview by Rui Felix, Shelley Long, Grace Yang. October 9, 2013.

19. “Welcome to the Neighbourhood,” Lafarge, 2010, accessed December 8, 2013

20. “Water Levels: Great Lakes and Montreal Harbour,” Canadian Hydrographic Service, last updated November 2013, accessed December 10, 2013

21. “Geology,” Ontario Ministry of Northern Devleopment and Mines, accessed December 10, 2013

22. Concrete Ideas.


Further Projects