ERA Architects

“The expression of the mortality of culture is of value to the culture itself.”

Responding to the recently published coffee-table book “The Ruins of Detroit“, Norene Malone has a piece in The New Republic discussing The Case Against Economic Disaster Porn. We might debate her conclusions, but it raises some important discussions.  It is interesting to imagine how, looking perhaps to the historic writings of Alois Riegl, we might approach a more thorough analysis of our contemporary love of the aesthetics of the ruin – and how that speaks to our collective system of values.

Of the theme, Peter J. Thompson has a photo-essay in the National Post, documenting the state of the R.L. Hearn Generating Station.

John Street Square _ Competition Winner Announced

Coryn Kempster and Julia Jamrozik’s proposal for an ‘Urban Ballroom’ has won the Ideas Competition for the John Street Square, located at the corner of John and King. The competition was sponsored by the Entertainment District Business Improvement Association, and is an element of the proposed John Street Cultural Corridor.

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‘.

For more information, please see Christopher Hume’s article in today’s Toronto Star.

2010 Governor General Awards

The 2010 Governor General Awards Ceremony – Monday January 31st in Ottawa.

Shim-Sutcliffe Architects and ERA Architects will be receiving a medal in architecture for the Corkin Gallery which is located in Toronto’s Distillery District.

Shim-Sutcliffe were the design architects and ERA, the heritage architect for this project.

To view the full list of the Governor General’s Medals in Architecture 2010 Recipients please click on RAIC

The scale of the Hearn

As recent public attention has focused on heritage structures under threat – a result of the destruction of the ex-Empress Hotel – we thought it would be of value to illustrate exactly how big the R.L. Hearn Generating Station actually is.


Originally built in 1951 as a coal-burning power plant, the Hearn is, quite simply, of a gargantuan scale – 240m long and over 80m wide.

The Hearn is directly connected to the Lake Ontario waterfront, within a ten minute drive of Union Station, and will soon sit square in the heart of the Portlands residential neighbourhood that is being developed as phase two of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

Diagrams provided by William MacIvor

Vertical Poverty

The United Way released a report today outlining the current state of apartment – tower living in the GTA. The report’s finding are based on several thousand interviews with tower residents, and contains important recommendations to improve the livability of apartment neighbourhoods.

ERA has long been involved with these Tower Neighbourhoods, and has championed the Tower Neighbourhood Renewal initiative from it’s very inception. For further background on the issue, please visit the Tower Renewal Blog, and the Centre for Urban Growth + Renewal website, which features a related Provincial report: Tower Neighbourhood Renewal in the Greater Golden Horseshoe: An Analysis of High-Rise Apartment Tower Neighbourhoods Developed in the Post-War Boom (1945-1984), released last month.  ERA participated in the United Way Vertical Poverty report as peer reviewer. Similarly, the tower research team at the United Way was a peer reviewer for ERA and planningAlliance’s recent study.

Visit the Vertical Poverty website, where you can download the full report and/or the executive summary in PDF format.

Read the summary articles in the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star.

Loblaws Lakeshore

The Financial Post has a small feature on the Loblaws Groceteria building at Lakeshore and Bathust.  ERA are consulting as Heritage Architects on the developing project. Though Loblaws had no comment for the story, local developer Paul Oberman described the project eloquently:

“I think that’s what heritage preservation is all about. It’s adaptive reuse: breathing a new life into old buildings and spaces,” said Paul Oberman, president and CEO of Woodcliffe Landmark Properties, which was behind such restoration projects as King James Place and the LCBO at the North Toronto Station.

“Cities, urban spaces, they have a rhythm and a texture to them, and I don’t think that we want neighbourhoods that are exclusively high-rise or exclusively low-rise. It’s about weaving an interesting and appropriate urban fabric.”

Alois Riegl and the Modern Cult of the Monument

Will and Michael teamed up to present a very brief introduction to the writings of Alois Riegl at Friday Social Hour this week.

Alois Riegl (1858-1905) was an Austrian art-historian and philosopher. In 1903 he published (in German) a seminal article titled The Modern Cult of the Monument: Its Character and Its Origin, outlining the competing values to be considered when approaching the preservation and/or conservation of historic structures. It is important to note that this article was only translated into English in 1982, in support of the criticism of the appropriation of historical forms and motifs in what has become known as the ‘postmodernist’ phase of architecture.

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The ghost of Matta-Clark visits Toronto

As previously mentioned, ERA is involved with the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the John F. Taylor house, and work has now begun on site.

The former east and west additions to the designated building have been removed, and general site preparation is underway. Restoration work is set to begin this spring, where by the heritage home will be returned to a house in the round. More photographs after the jump.

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Welcome to the Brickworks

Each year, the AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students) hosts a Forum offering architecture students from across North America an opportunity to gather in celebration of the profession.  This year, Ryerson University hosted the Forum in Toronto and welcomed approximately 900 eager American students to Canada’s largest metropolis. ERA participated in this year’s Forum by hosting a building tour at the Don Valley Brickworks.

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2010 Architectural Conservancy of Ontario Awards

E.R.A. Architects and Shoalts Brothers Construction were awarded the Peter Stokes Award for Restoration from the ACO for the exterior restoration of the Miller House, in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The 1817 house is noted in several of Peter Stokes’ publications for its refined architectural quality and evidence of early 19th-century construction techniques and taste. Now part of the Pillar and Post Inn, it was restored by E.R.A. using sound heritage principles and the highest conservation standards.

E.R.A. Architects receiving the award. From left: ACO president Lloyd Alter, Edwin and Jan of ERA Architects, award sponsor Don Hutchison of J D Strachan, and presenting sponsor George Rust-D’Eye of WeirFoulds LLP.

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