ERA Architects

Gladstone Grow Op

grow ops

We are pleased to announce that ERA will be participating in Grow Op: Exploring Landscape and Place, a special four-day event and exhibition to be held in late at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel April 25-28, 2013.

The exhibition, curated by landscape architect Victoria Taylor OALA CSLA, will involve a wide range of interdisciplinary practices and creative positions on landscape, gardens, city, and place. Please keep an eye out for news on this exciting event as we approach the date.

As an aside, in the process of discussions with the Gladstone, we were reminded of a project from years ago: an installation by ERA’s Michael McClelland and Philip Evans called Room for a Bungalow. To see this project, please see the Gladstone archive.

Happy Holidays!

Append & tweak: Rethinking heritage in our suburbs

An article by ERA associate Joey Giaimo was recently published in the latest APT Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology International.  The article, “Append & Tweak: An Approach for Preserving the Evolving Suburban Landscape,” asks us to re-evaluate how we regard and manage heritage resources in suburban contexts, and argues for a cultural landscape approach as we move forward. Continue reading…

The Red Mason

Recently, as part of ERA’s ongoing interest in preserving and applying traditional building crafts, we were happy to be involved in heritage masonry workshops led by Dr. Gerard Lynch. Dr. Lynch is an internationally acclaimed historic brickwork consultant, master bricklayer, educator, and author.  He is considered the world’s leading authority of gauged brickwork, and affectionately known by the historic term “The Red Mason.” Continue reading…

Graeme Stewart on “Imagine a City”

This autumn, United Way’s Imagine a City blog is hosting a series of guest writers to discuss a number of important programs related to Toronto’s future as a livable city. Recently ERA’s Graeme Stewart blogged on his vision for Tower Neighbourhood Renewal, a program we have been working on in collaboration with partners including the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R), the City of Toronto, Province of Ontario, Toronto Public Health, and United Way Toronto. Continue reading…

Conference in Charleston

Recently Andrew Pruss and Jan Kubanek traveled to Charleston, South Carolina to attend the Association for Preservation Technology International Conference, 2012.

Jan Kubanek presented on Sharon Temple, a fascinating project ERA has had the opportunity to work on for several years. Jan’s presentation focused on the importance of working collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team. In this project, ERA was able to make the best use of our multi-disciplinary team’s combined expertise in traditional construction carpentry and wood conservation. The team included a structural engineer specializing in heritage preservation and a carpenter with extensive experience at the Temple site. Continue reading…

Four awards at CAHP 2012!

ERA is proud to announce that the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP) has recently recognized four of our projects at their annual awards:

Many thanks to CAHP for organizing the awards each year and congratulations to all our colleagues. A special thanks also to everyone we collaborated with on these projects!

Polychrome brickwork

Following up with more masonry-related topics in honour of an upcoming visit by our friend Gerard Lynch, today’s post is on a distinctive masonry tradition used internationally: polychrome brickwork, the use of usually two, but sometimes three, colours of brick, generally red with buff accents (but the opposite in the image above). Continue reading…

Heritage Masonry with Gerard Lynch

Oct. 23 to 31 – various one- and two-day courses.

Masons, heritage professionals, architects, historians, and all interested parties are invited to join us for a series of very special courses in brickwork. Learn from scholar and master mason Gerard Lynch about traditional limes and mortars, traditional binders, historical forms of pointing and jointing, causes of failure in brickwork, and all manner of rich detail in the mason’s art.

Continue reading…

Tuckpointing: a note on detail

This month we are posting on a few masonry-related topics in honour of an upcoming visit by our friend Gerard Lynch, who is leading heritage masonry workshops at Evergreen Brickworks, from October 23 to 31. Today’s post is on an ingenious but little-known art called tuckpointing. The term tuckpointing is often used today as a synonym for repointing, the replacement of old mortar in brickwork. But historically, this term in fact refers to a less common subtlety of the mason’s practice. Continue reading…

Toronto to Detroit

Selection of photos by Lara Herald, Scott Weir, Alana Young, Sydney Martin, Graeme Stewart, Jordan Molnar, Julie Tyndorf, Alec Ring, and Brent Wagler.

Recently a large group of us here at ERA spent a weekend exploring the amazing city of Detroit, Michigan. Founded in 1701, Detroit became a huge industrial and economic engine from the mid-19th century through the automobile boom of the early 20th century. During the 1920s and ‘50s especially, a great deal of stunning modernist architecture was constructed and many of these amazing buildings still stand today. Continue reading…

Heritage masonry courses with Gerard Lynch

Oct. 23 to 31 – various one- and two-day courses.

Masons, heritage professionals, architects, historians, and all interested parties are invited to join us for a series of very special courses in brickwork. Learn from scholar and master mason Gerard Lynch about traditional limes and mortars, traditional binders, historical forms of pointing and jointing, causes of failure in brickwork, and all manner of rich detail in the mason’s art. Continue reading…

Amendments to Heritage Policies in Toronto’s Official Plan

The City of Toronto has just brought forward draft Official Plan Amendment No. 199 regarding Public Realm and Heritage policies. In May of this year, a staff report recommending the adoption of revised heritage policies was brought forward, and a public open house was scheduled. Prior to the public open house on September 10th, ERA submitted comments to the City outlining our concerns. We are pleased to report that some of our comments have been incorporated into the newly drafted OPA No. 199, but find that some areas could benefit from further revision. Continue reading…

Community Art Project at the Riverdale Hub

Over the past few months, ERA has had the pleasure of working with the Riverdale Hub on a community revitalization strategy for the Gerrard Bazaar/Little India neighbourhood. The Riverdale Hub is an innovative model for community revitalization that integrates environmental sustainability and social enterprise in order to provide training for new Canadian women and create opportunities for local economic growth and investment. Continue reading…

Health and urban design: Two new reports released

The Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R) is pleased to announce the release of two reports examining public health, urban policy, and neighbourhood rejuvenation in Toronto:

In partnership with United Way Toronto and Toronto Public Health respectively, these reports further research, policy development, and practical strategies to help achieve the potential of Tower Neighbourhood Renewal. Continue reading…

Health, zoning and urban design: Two new reports released

The Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R) has announced the release of two reports examining public health, urban policy, and neighbourhood rejuvenation in Toronto:

In partnership with United Way Toronto and Toronto Public Health respectively, these reports further research, policy development, and practical strategies to help achieve the potential of Tower Neighbourhood Renewal.

Continue reading…

Kubanek’s new Montreal office

ERA is pleased to announce that Jan Kubanek’s Montreal office has moved to Complexe du Canal Lachine on Rue St. Ambroise in the Saint-Henri neighbourhood. The building was constructed in the late 1800s and was once home to the Alaska Feather and Down company and Simmons Ltd. mattress manufacturers.

Continue reading…

Stone Engravings at Soldiers’ Tower

One of the projects we have been involved with for several years is the ongoing masonry conservation of Soldiers’ Tower, a monument built just to the west of University of Toronto’s Hart House. An interesting aspect of the project has been to catalogue and document hundreds of lines of engraved text on several stone faces within and adjacent to the Tower.

The Tower began construction in 1919 and was designed by Sproatt & Rolph Architects. Funded through donations raised by the University’s Alumni Association and benefactor Vincent Massey, the Tower was completed in 1924.  It is a solid stone masonry structure designed in the Late Gothic Revival style and built to honour members of the University of Toronto who lost their lives in World War I. Additional names where later added in the archway after World War II.

While the Tower, which stands 143 feet tall, is architecturally significant in its own right, the carefully cut engravings, which list the names of 1185 fallen members, are arguably the most important element. So when members of the Soldiers’ Tower Alumni Committee told us that the names had never been recorded, we took the opportunity to do so.

What ensued was a process of ladder climbing, photo-documentation, and numerous careful measurements assembled in a graphic catalogue identifying the content, form, location, and dimensions of each line of engraving.

Having been through this process, we now see the monument not only as a record of our collective past, but also as a carefully constructed work of art. Its typesetting and engraving are artfully conceived and finely crafted, while its scale and grandeur convey with appropriate weight the loss of life in war.

A page from the catalogue of documentary photographs.

For information on Soldiers’ Tower and its annual remembrance service, please see University of Toronto’s Soldiers’ Tower webpage. For images and information on ERA’s work with Soldiers’ Tower, please see our portfolio page.

Proposed Heritage Policies in the ‘Toronto Official Plan’ Review

As part of the current review of the Toronto Official Plan, new heritage policies have been drafted and presented to City Council for public discussion.

Over the past months, we here at ERA Architects have thoroughly reviewed the proposed municipal heritage policies. We are concerned that a great opportunity may be lost, for three key reasons:

  • The proposed policies primarily address regulatory and process issues rather than goals and objectives,
  • They don’t significantly advance us beyond the status quo, and
  • They show no sense of strategic implementation. Continue reading…

The city as garden

Recently ERA’s Brendan Stewart gave a talk at Toronto’s Metro Hall, sponsored by LEAF and Park People, on the design potential of trees in cities. After setting the context of modern landscape design, beginning with André Le Nôtre’s French tradition and William Kent’s English tradition, the talk moved on to survey several interesting historical and international projects, including… Continue reading…