ERA Architects

Construction and river valley tour, East Scarborough

Photos: Holly Pagnacco

Progress on the East Scarborough Storefront’s (ESS) soon-to-be grapevine pergola is running on time. We have just completed some 50 trellis modules which will form the roof structure for the grapevines to grow on. The youth spent weeks building these modules and have become confident measuring and cutting wood, along with many other skills.

As part of this ongoing learning process, our youth landscapers recently presented on the transformations the community could expect at ESS, including the pergola and deck, which the team has been working on since early July. Participants were surprised and inspired to see the impressive projects community youth are working on.

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Construction begins at the Storefront

Over the past couple of years, ERA has been working with The East Scarborough Storefront (ESS) on the Community Design Initiative (CDI), where Scarborough youth are educated in architecture and design by mentors from ERA, Sustainable.TO, and ArchiTEXT. In the current phase, we are working to bring more shade and plant life to the site. This will include several garden and landscape features, a pergola structure for grapevines, and a green-roof pavilion known as the Sky-o-swale.

Beginning earlier in July, five youth from the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park community, who have cumulatively dedicated hundreds of hours to the CDI program, were hired by the ESS for a five-week period to physically build an exterior deck for public use (located under the Sky-o-swale), as well as 50 trellis modules that will form the roof structure for the grapevine pergola.

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Trees in Public Space: ERA’s Brendan Stewart Speaks

International Influences: Inspiring Ideas for Trees in Public Space, August 16, 2012, 7pm, Metro Hall, Toronto

Presented in collaboration with LEAF and Park People, Brendan’s talk discussed the rich aesthetic traditions and histories of planting trees in gardens, parks, and urban open spaces.

Through images of beautiful and inspirational designed landscapes from around the world, we discussed how designing with trees can enhance our experience of place. Brendan also inquired into the relevance of these traditions today and how they might shape our ideas about green space here in Toronto. In a preview to the talk, Brendan recently made an appearance on Global’s Morning Show.

To register and for more information, please see LEAF’s event page.

*Note: This event qualifies for ISA Continuing Education Units (CEU).

Repurposed junk: A chicken coop

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk”
–Thomas Edison.

One thing that attracted us to rural living was a sort of environmental frugality: You try to figure out how to accomplish what needs doing with what you’ve managed to save.  (This notion applies to the practice of heritage conservation as well.)  Hoarding is admittedly easier here than it was in the city: Now we have the garage, the barn, the shed, the back of the lot….  But the idea of turning waste into usefulness (central to the practice of farming as we see it) percolates into all manner of rural living, and provides a close and satisfying connection to our practice, whether working in the garden, tending to our beehive, or building a chicken coop.

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Rum Cake: An ERA bake-off report

Like architecture offices around the globe, ERA Architects occasionally indulges in a bake-off. In these highly competitive events, contestants’ work is assessed and ranked by blind ballot, and the winner is proffered the prestigious Golden Whisk (pictured above, bottom right).

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Certificate of Merit for Urban Design Plans

We are pleased to announce that the Toronto Avenues and Mid-Rise Buildings Study has been awarded a 2012 National Urban Design Certificate of Merit.

This study, conducted for the City of Toronto, was led by Brook McIlroy and included significant contributions from Quadrangle Architects, the Urban Marketing Collaborative, and ERA Architects. The document identifies policy-based opportunities to re-urbanize Toronto’s avenues in the pursuit of well-designed, vibrant neighbourhoods.

The National Urban Design Awards are administered by Architecture Canada RAIC, the Canadian Institute of Planners, and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. Thanks to all of the above and congratulations to our colleagues.

Planting for an elevated bioswale in Scarborough

On a recent pleasant day in June, ERA joined green roof expert Atom Cianfarani and a group of community youth to plant a nursery in preparation for the future construction of an unusual green-roof shade structure at the East Scarborough Storefront.

Over the past year, we have been working with the Storefront, Sustainable.TO, ArchiTEXT, various volunteers, and youth participants on an exciting project in the tower neighbourhood of Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park. Soon we begin construction of a dynamic new environment including a kitchen garden and patio, a bee and butterfly garden, a small orchard, and a unique green-roof pavilion or “Sky-o-swale.”

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Detroit’s new “Creative Ventures” announced

Recently the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3) announced the 2012/13 round of its Creative Ventures project. DC3, a partnership between Business Leaders for Michigan and the College for Creative Studies, seeks to enhance the collective potential of Detroit’s creative community and grow its creative economy. This kind of initiative is key to the increasing role that design and applied arts are playing in the rebirth of the city.

Since 2011, ERA’s Scott Weir has been a mentor with DC3 and is actively working to build bridges between the creative communities of Toronto and Detroit. Stay tuned for future developments in this and other projects in Detroit-Windsor.

Community project in Brigus, Newfoundland

Recently Alana Young and Andrew Pruss returned from Brigus, Newfoundland where they worked with a group of Ryerson students to study the interaction of culture, place, history, and landscape. This project was part of an ongoing initiative by ERA and Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R) called Culture of Outports, which investigates how architectural thinking can help re-imagine changing economies and cultures.

For more information and detailed documentation of the Brigus project, please see CUG+R’s website.

United Way AGM: Graeme Stewart’s Keynote Address

On Thursday, June 21, ERA’s Graeme Stewart addressed United Way’s AGM as keynote speaker.

In 2010, ERA and CUG+R published Tower Neighbourhood Renewal in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which looks at a broad range of historical trends, planning issues, sustainability concerns, social needs, and opportunity for renewal in and around Toronto’s tower block neighbourhoods. In 2011, United Way published Vertical Poverty, which focuses much-needed attention on poverty, equity, and quality-of-life issues experienced by residents of high-rise housing. Continue reading…

Brickwork course w/ Gerard Lynch: postponed

Postponed until October, we apologize for the inconvenience…

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…

A successful Toronto the Good, 2012

On Thursday, June 7th, we got together with Torontonians at Fort York to reflect on the city and toast its built and cultural environments, past and future. Close to 1000 guests joined us in enjoying great food, drink, dancing, and stimulating discussion about the place we live.

Thank you very much, all who attended – we look forward to seeing you again.

And, of course, thank you very much to Fort York for hosting, En Ville for catering, DJ Sam “Efsharp” Fleming for the music, Luminato’s Encampment for collaborating with us, and to all our partners and sponsors this year: Build Toronto, Toronto Society of Architects, McGowan Insurance Services, Prem Malik, Arup, McCarthy Tétrault, Kearns Mancini Architects, Diamond Corp, Palatine Hills Estate Winery, Carpenters’ Union, Spacing, Urban Strategies, Ground Magazine, Scadding Court Community Centre, Campbell House Museum, Working Habitat, Evolved Entertainment, Varsity Tents, and Astley Gilbert.

Keep up to date with our yearly event at torontothegood.org.

ERA goes to Brigus, Nfld.

We are pleased to announce the second installation of our Culture of Outports project, developed in collaboration with the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal.

ERA’s Andrew Pruss and Alana Young have just arrived in Brigus, Newfoundland, which, dating from 1612, is one of the oldest European settlements in North America. Over the next two weeks, they will lead a “culture lab” with a group of Ryerson University students, collaborating with local residents to reflect on the site’s past and future. This lab examines local culture, built forms, and geography to imagine how architectural thinking can propose innovative ways to manage change and build community.

To learn more, please have a look at ongoing documentation of this year’s project or of last year’s completed project at Burlington.

Revitalizing Ontario Place: ERA’s Lara Herald on CBC

Lara Herald, a project landscape architect at ERA, was recently invited to speak with Matt Galloway on CBC’s Metro Morning regarding the future of Toronto’s Ontario Place.

A cluster of three artificial islands on Toronto’s waterfront, Ontario Place was launched in 1971 as an affordable and varied summer destination. Its attractions have over time included a simulated mine, a wilderness adventure ride, a World War II Destroyer, a concert venue, an IMAX theatre, a marina, a waterpark, and, of course, various places to walk, rest, eat, and drink.

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Evergreen Brickworks film wins Hotdocs award

Crowd the Schoolhouse, a short film inspired by the evolution and regeneration of the Evergreen Brickworks site (a project in ERA’s portfolio), recently received two awards at the International Documentary Challenge. Each film must be 5 minutes long, filmed within the same five days at the beginning of March, and based on the theme of “cycles.” The entry by team Made-in-Toronto received the award for best writing and Best Use of Genre (Social Issue/Political). Congratulations!

See the video at International Documentary Challenge.

Doors Open at ERA: Sat. May 26, 2012

Doors Open Toronto is an annual event that celebrates the city and its rich history of architecture and urban design, providing access to buildings that are otherwise inaccessible. This year, ERA Architects is excited to be taking part in the Architect’s Studiotour organized by the Toronto Society of Architects. We would be pleased if you’d join us on Saturday May 26 between 10 a.m and 5 p.m. to check out our office and ask us about the work we do.

For more information, please see the City’s website.

Jane’s Walk on Jarvis St.

On Sunday May 6th, ERA principal Michael McClelland joined Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and 75 interested participants on a Jane’s Walk in Toronto’s downtown east. Named for legendary urbanist and author Jane Jacobs, Jane’s Walks occur all over the world in the name of promoting urban literacy and community involvement in local urban environments.

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