ERA Architects

Home on the range

Scott recently completed a kitchen renovation for a private home in Cabbagetown. Centred around a six burner Wolf range, the space was just wide enough to accommodate a galley format with two runs of extra deep counters, lit by new double hung Kolbe and Kolbe windows.

More photos after the jump..

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The Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R)

ERA Architects and planningAlliance have launched the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R) website.

CUG+R is a non-profit research organization formed in 2009 to conduct cross-disciplinary research to further knowledge about the creation and renewal of sustainable urban, suburban and rural environments in Canada and elsewhere. CUG+R’s objective is to develop research to enhance public policy and promote private initiatives that foster City Regions and local communities that are: well planned and designed, economically vibrant, socially diverse, culturally integrated and environmentally sustainable.

CUG+R officially launched in December 2010 with the release of Tower Neighbourhood Renewal in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, a report jointly prepared by CUG+R’s founding partners, ERA Architects and planningAlliance, and the launch of cugr.ca.


www.cugr.ca will showcase research work the founding firms have undertaken together and individually, as well as those of partners, collaborators, and increasingly work unique to CUG+R as it expands and evolves.

CUG+R also works in collaboration with the Cities Centre at the University of Toronto; an umbrella organization that combines researchers from the University’s urban focused faculties to engage in projects that affect positive change in the Toronto region and urban Canada.

Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal

ERA Architects and planningAlliance launch the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R).

CUG+R is a non-profit research organization formed in 2009 to conduct cross-disciplinary research to further knowledge about the creation and renewal of sustainable urban, suburban and rural environments in Canada and elsewhere. CUG+R’s objective is to develop research to enhance public policy and promote private initiatives that foster City Regions and local communities that are: well planned and designed, economically vibrant, socially diverse, culturally integrated and environmentally sustainable.

CUG+R officially launched in December 2010 with the release of Tower Neighbourhood Renewal in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, a report jointly prepared by CUG+R’s founding partners, ERA Architects and planningAlliance, and the launch of cugr.ca.

Cugr.ca will showcase research work the founding firms have undertaken together and individually, as well as those of partners, collaborators and, increasingly, work unique to CUG+R as it continues to expand and evolve.

CUG+R also works in collaboration with the Cities Centre at the University of Toronto; an umbrella organization that combines researchers from the University’s urban focused faculties to engage in projects that affect positive change in the Toronto region and urban Canada.

Picton Main Street

Meandering this morning through the Archives of the Ontario  I came across these  great pictures of Picton’s Main Street at the turn of the century.

Parade (1905)

H. B. Wright & Co. storefront (between 1898-1920)

Picton Methodist Church and tourist office (between 1898 and 1920)

The Millionth Tower

ERA (in association with the Centre for Urban Growth + Renewal) has been working with the National Film Board on their documentary project HighRise, which looks at the experience of living in post war concrete towers around the world.

Currently, ERA, CUG+R, and the National Film Board are working with the Kipling Towers community in north Etobicoke to produce the forthcoming web documentary The Millionth Tower; a follow up to the powerful web documentary, The 1000th Tower.

While The 1000th Tower brings the viewer inside the lives of six tower residents, sharing stories of their present experience, The Millionth Tower will showcase the bold ideas that the residents have in re-imagining what their neighbourhood could become in the future. ERA and CUG+R have been helping to inspire the community to dream big, and providing design guidance to help communicate their ideas. Look for The Millionth Tower to be launched in 2011.

Allstream Centre _ restoration photographs


A few very quick photographs from the restoration of the former Automotive Building north lobby. This part of the project included the removal of a number of unsympathetic modern additions, and a significant regrading of the original floor slope to accommodate contemporary universal accessibility requirements.  Extensive metal work and finishes were also replicated or restored (including the amazing pendant light fixtures seen in the bottom-most photograph), and new windows installed replicating the original design and colour.

More images after the jump.

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John Street Square _ Design Competition Finalists

The five finalists for the John Street Square Design Ideas Competition have been revealed on-line.  It is now up to you to vote for your favorite redesign of this important but underutilized public space at the strategic intersection of King and John Streets. Voting closes on January 9th, 2011, but until then you’re allowed to vote once/day. Vote early and vote often!

ERA developed the idea for the John Street Cultural Corridor in a 2003 cultural mapping study produced for the City of Toronto, entitled ‘Canada’s Urban Waterfront; Waterfront Culture and Heritage Infrastructure Plan‘.

The image above is from finalist #4, titled “Entertain Me”.
 

Download North York’s Modernist Architecture Revisited

Download the full 2010 edition of North York’s Modernist Architecture Revisited in PDF format.  A hard-copy of this booklet was made available at the November 9th, 2010 North York Modernist Architecture Forum.

North York’s Modernist Architecture Revisited is an extension of and complements ERA’s 2009 reprinting of the original 1997 report and inventory.  It includes current photographs of over 200 buildings from the original inventory plus additional notable buildings built between 1945 and 1981 in North York.  Also included is a proposed heritage policy strategy, biographies of several prominent architects, and an essay on North York’s modernist beginnings.

Please note that North York’s Modernist Architecture Revisited includes over 300 photographs, and the PDF is quite large.  At 32mb, the file may take some time to download.

Hidden Architectural Gems

As part of our exploration of the County and surrounding areas, we recently had the opportunity to visit a few true architectural gems – Otto Roger’s artist studio by architect Siamak Hariri and the Bata Residence (in Batawa) by architect John B. Parkin.

The Bata residence (currently being documented by Carleton University students) is a remarkable and well preserved example of Parkin’s residential work.  Located up on the hill, the residence boats an incredible view overlooking the Town of Batawa.  And though it is modest in size, it is clear that every detail was considered.  A few memorable attributes include the family shoe closet (but of course), the bathroom colours, and the custom designed dining table.

The artist studio by Hariri was another fantastic discovery.  Here we found a building, again modest and finely articulated, quietly nestled into the woods.  But what was breath-taking was how the intimacy with nature extended into the studio with the light and the glow of the autumn coloured leaves.

Both these visits, unique and inspiring in their own ways, confirmed to me there is indeed a special ‘sense of place’ here.  And that it is exemplified not just in our loyalist building stock, but also in our more recent architectural contributions.

 

North York Modernist Architecture Forum on Tuesday November 9th

ERA with Heritage Toronto, the City of Toronto and the North York Community Preservation Panel will be hosting an evening of presentations and discussion on the former city’s Modernist stock. The evening will be hosted by Heritage Toronto executive director Karen Carter with presentations by the Globe and Mail’s Dave LeBlanc, Heritage Toronto’s Gary Miedema, the City of Toronto’s Leo deSorcy, North York Community Preservation Panel Chair Geoff Kettel and ERA’s Michael McClelland.

The Forum will be held on Tuesday November 9 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm in the Council Chamber at the North York Civic Centre at 5100 Yonge Street.

ERA will be releasing a document updating the entire inventory of 1997’s North York’s Modernist Architecture. This newly printed document will complement last year’s reprinting and will be available at the event.

Maple Leaf Gardens _ Heritage Interpretation Plan


Alexandra Studio Fonds; 1257, series 1057, item 4737

Built in 1931, Maple Leaf Gardens quickly became a social and cultural hub in the city, and it is no overstatement to say that the wide variety of events held there over the ensuing decades influenced the cultural development of the nation.  Best known as the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team from 1931 to 1999, the Gardens also hosted political rallies, large religious congregations and assemblies, military drills, and pageants.  The large, clear-span arena provided the setting for every conceivable form of musical entertainment, from the Metropolitan Opera to Metallica.  It was also the battleground for boxers, wrestlers and runners, and has hosted innumerable bicycle races, tennis matches, ice follies, basketball games, rodeos, ballets, bingos, and circuses.  The building is widely acknowledged as a local and national landmark, and has been recognized as a National Historic Site.  As part of the on-going Maple Leaf Gardens adaptive reuse project by Loblaws and Ryerson University, ERA is currently developing the Heritage Interpretation Plan to celebrate the rich history of the Gardens as a series of moments and stories distributed throughout both new owner spaces.

In doing our research and combing through the mountains of audio/visual content associated with the building from the past eighty years, we’ve come across some pretty amusing photographs.  This is one of our favorites, found at the City of Toronto Archives.  Who is … The Legionnaire Mystery Man?

 

The Colours of the Allandale Train Station

As part of the strategy to restore the Allandale Train Station, ERA is working to identify the exterior paint scheme, as it would have appeared in 1905.  At the office social hour last Friday, Alana described how preliminary research uncovered clues to the original building colouration from a variety of sources including; archival photographs, newspaper clippings and postcards.

Additionally, ERA consulted with a professional paint analyst.  She analyzed paint samples removed from various locations on the buildings to accurately determine the original 1905 colours.

The combination of archival resources and physical samples has informed a colour scheme that uses four main colours – consistent with the standard corporate colours of the Grand Trunk Railroad.

The three buildings in the station complex were not all built at the same time.  The brick office building to the far right in the illustration above pre-dates the restaurant (middle) and passenger depot (left).  The original brick building was also decorated with Chinese screenings around windows, doors and along the fascia under the roofline.  These stencils may be restored at a later date.

The Brick Works _ from academia to practice

Here at ERA, we seek to operate at the fine and blurred line between the realms of theory and practice.  Two ERAers are currently teaching design studios at the Daniels School of Architecture at the University of Toronto, and a number of employees in the office have been able to continue working on large-scale projects that they originally investigated at school.   For example, Kirsty‘s masters design thesis Postproduction: the adaptive renewal of industrial-purpose built architecture looked at the rediscovery of Toronto’s Don Valley Brick Works. Her theoretical proposal encompassed sustainable re-use strategies that were developed through an extensive study into the history and current state of the site.

Factory production of the early twenty-first century was generally linear and parochial.  The architecture of these factories was designed to be functional, flexible, and subservient to the processes housed within. Industrial production tended to follow a sequence of gathering resources, mixing the parts, producing the product, and distributing the product.  Process buildings at resource extraction sites were constantly in flux, and for the most part this led to dereliction once the resource was exhausted. Owing to the initiative of Evergreen, the re-imagined complex has now become a vehicle for the propagation of sustainable ideas. Clay is no longer the resource. The Brick Works site itself has become the resource; an amazing landscape and raw space full of opportunity.

ERA has been working on the Evergreen Brick Works project for over a decade now.  Since joining the firm, Kirsty has been able to continue working on the adaptive re-use of these structures, and their transfer from industrial production to cultural opportunity.  The rehabilitation of the Brick Works buildings and artifacts is an on-going process of renewal.  Significant rehabilitation work remains, but this past fall Evergreen were able to move into their new home, and have opened their doors seven days a week to the community.

King Edward Hotel condo conversion receives top marks.

Christopher Hume, in his Toronto Star Condo Critic column, has given the ongoing King Eddy condo conversion project an ‘A’ grade.

Though it was a social and business centre of Edwardian Toronto; for decades it never quite fitted in as anything more than the Grande Dame of King St. In the 21st century, that’s all changed. The gilded splendour of the old King Edward now shines brighter than ever. Who wouldn’t want to live there? If that isn’t an idea that occurred to anyone sooner, it is definitely one whose time has come.

Three floors of the hotel building which had previously been commercial space are being redeveloped as private condominiums.  ERA are the architects-in-charge of the project, with The Design Agency handling interior design.

Read the full article.

Our First Stop: 2335 County Road 10

2335 County Rd. 10 circa 1898

Circa 1898

Summer 2010

Summer 2010

Before we dive into the Settler’s Dream, however, it seems that we should begin by “writing what we know”: our own house on County Road 10, located almost exactly between Cherry Valley and Milford.

 

The eastern portion of our house (currently the office) is thought to be some 150 years old, and the central and western portions thought to have been added about 50 years later. Kitchen and dining functions occupied the centre, while the west was used as a wood shed (ground floor) and a chicken coop (second storey). The western third was fully incorporated as an interior space in 2004, when its then new owners renovated inside and out. The first photo shows the house c.1898, “on occasion of new drive shed” (demolished 2004) in the foreground, and if one squints, one can see some young locust trees that eventually come to their modern prominence.

The Settler’s Dream

The ERA Prince Edward County office is up and running (and running and running). And running.

ERA PEC is a whole new adventure, and everywhere we look there is something new (or old) and beautiful and unique. We can’t turn around without seeing something we haven’t seen before. This blog will be a record of our discoveries, our projects, and provide a snapshot of local life through an architectural lens.

But first – a little background how it all began.

Ontario’s only island county, “The County” (as it is locally referred to) would first have been occupied by indigenous peoples as soon as retreating glaciers allowed, and evidence of these early occupiers dates back some 11,000 years. The County was originally a peninsula, only gaining island status with the construction of the Murray Canal in the late 1880s, fully 100 years after settlement by United Empire Loyalists, mercenaries, and other immigrants from (predominantly) the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands.

The information above was taken from The Settler’s Dream, the local authority on the built heritage of the County. To help us explore our new home (and all its wonders), we will use this as our guide — visiting the places described in the Settler’s Dream to see how (or if) they have changed.

PEC Picnic for ERA’s 20th Anniversary

ERA celebrated twenty years in operation with a picnic at our new office in Picton. The Toronto branch (and their respective significant others and extended families) made the journey east for a fine day in the county, which included tours of historic properties, a huge barbeque, and a sampling of delicious local wines.

Here’s to the next twenty!