ERA Architects

Public space: Two from our library

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At ERA we often gather on a Wednesday morning or a Friday afternoon to share progress on recent projects, issues affecting our cities, or to look at both historical and contemporary research in architecture, landscape, planning, design, technique, process, theory, etc. Recently these titles came up for discussion: Continue reading…

PechaKucha of the day

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Recently PechaKucha selected a Graeme Stewart talk as a “Presentation of the Day.” We thought, What better reason to repost the presentation? It’s a great crash course in Tower Renewal, an interdisciplinary program that is reshaping how we think about Toronto’s post-war residential apartment tower neighbourhoods.

This 7-minute talk covers half a century of Toronto’s history, right up to some of the exciting new initiatives taking place in and around the city.

PechaKucha is a simple presentation genre where presenters speak about 20 images for 20 seconds each. The method was devised by Tokyo-based architects Klein-Dytham as a way to facilitate dialog and idea generation between architects, designers, and other creative thinkers.

To see other presentations, please visit pechakucha.org.

For more on Tower Renewal, visit towerrenewal.com

Architecture and value

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This past November at Carleton University’s Forum Lecture Series, ERA’s Michael McClelland presented on how changing cultural values interact with how we practice architecture.

Seeking to expand the range of what we think of as architecture, Michael’s talk asks, What should architects do? According to him, they shouldn’t only make buildings, but conduct research, engage the public, study the world, respond to changing values, and… throw parties.

To read Spacing Ottawa’s review of the talk, see Spacing online.

Or, watch the video of the slide presentation below:

Ontario Place in docomomoUS

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Recently ERA’s Michael McClelland collaborated with Ottawa-based architect James Ashby on an article on Toronto’s Ontario Place, for docomomoUS. The article reviews the history of this unusual site, discusses the significance of its iconic design, and reminds us of the opportunity we now have to enrich our understanding of how to approach modernist architecture as part of a cultural heritage landscape. Continue reading…

Brownie award to Bridgepoint Don Jail

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The Don Jail was just awarded a CUI Brownie Award for “Rebuild: Excellence in Project Development, Building Scale.” This project, which involved a huge team including +VG, KPMB, Stantec, Diamond Schmitt, HDR, Urban Strategies, and many others, transformed an 1864 historic Toronto jail into the new administrative offices for Bridgepoint Active Healthcare.

Kitchener’s Lang Tannery District, which we worked on with RAW Design, also received a people’s choices award. Thanks people!

And thanks very much to the Canadian Urban Institute, to our client, and to our project team. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!

Learn more about the Don Jail project on our portfolio page.

University Ave.: A heritage landscape of value?

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The summer edition of Ground Magazine features an article by ERA’s Michael McClelland and Brendan Stewart on the history and design of Toronto’s University Avenue.

When it was first designed in 1829 the Avenue was hailed as “one of, if not the finest in the Dominion.” Over the next century, the tranquil tree-lined promenade fell into some decline and became a desolate and under-maintained roadway.

In the early 1960s, however, the central boulevards were redesigned by Dunington-Grubb & Stensson. This striking modernist redesign has also been left to fall somewhat by the wayside. The article asks us to reconsider its value.

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If we do indeed value this remarkable landscape, could restoration of the islands, coupled with new tree plantings and integrated pavements on the outer boulevards be considered?  Could the islands be linked to each other by pedestrian crossings to restore the opportunity to promenade?

Further examination and discussion of this important project is warranted. We welcome feedback and ideas!

To read the full article, please visit Ground Online (see page 30 of pdf).

Holcim Award to 1 Spadina Cresc.

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Recently the Holcim Foundation Awards recognized 1 Spadina Crescent under the category “Heritage Reframed.” ERA is working with the University, NADAAA, and Adamson Associates to repair and refurbish the spectacular gothic revival building from 1875, and redevelop the site to accommodate a new addition designed by NADAAA to be occupied by the University’s Daniels Faculty of Architecture and Landscape Design.

Continue reading…

Toronto the Good: Great!

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Toronto the Good  2014, our tenth annual public party, was a big success. We had attendance exceeding 1000 people, and, according to accounts, a good time was had by all. Beer and wine flowed, music spun, people danced, and a great deal of urban-minded mingling occurred. Continue reading…

Gemini House exceeds expectations

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Recent data shows that Gemini House, a green retrofit of an 1880s Second-Empire home, is a real success, with energy savings up to 72% reduced from current Ontario standards. For this project, ERA collaborated with University of Toronto and Ryerson University to transform a poorly performing heritage home into a model for sustainable design. The project challenges a common misconception that heritage architecture and sustainable design do not mix.­ Continue reading…

Toronto’s City Hall: An evolving icon

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Monocle recently profiled Toronto’s City Hall, designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, positioning it as the city’s most distinctive piece of architectural design. ERA’s Graeme Stewart is featured in the discussion of how the building began, and how it has evolved as a central moment in the urban and civic experience of Toronto.

Continue reading…

Charity Hicks’ passing

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Charity Hicks and Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam; photo Catherine Mombourquette

Sad news reached us this week that Charity Hicks, a well-known Detroit-based activist and leader, passed away July 8, 2014. Ms. Hicks was an advocate for democracy, grass-roots engagement, and environmental and social justice.

ERA had the privilege of witnessing a conversation between Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Charity Hicks at the Detroit-Toronto Symposium in 2013, where Ms. Hicks spoke passionately and inspiringly on social, economic, and cultural change in Detroit.

A fundraising campaign is currently underway to bring Ms. Hicks back to Detroit for burial and to support her family during the immediate period of trauma. If you would like to consider contributing, donations can be made online.