ERA Architects

RAC Zoning Approved for 500 Sites

RAC-1
This June, Toronto City Council approved the proposed Residential Apartment Commercial (RAC) zone. Following a process of nearly two years of research, public consultation, policy development, and advocacy in partnership with United Way, City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health, the RAC zoning will take effect by summer’s end, (barring appeal), in nearly 500 Apartment properties that form dozens of Apartment Neighbourhoods across the city.

The new zoning by-law provides a new and flexible land-use framework for Apartment Neighbourhoods. The goal of this new framework is to enable healthy, complete, and vibrant neighbourhoods better able to respond to local needs and opportunities. The goal is addressed primarily by allowing for a full range of uses within these neighbourhoods: commercial activity, social activity, and community services – amenities that most areas of Toronto take for granted. Continue reading…

1960s Canada: An interview with Vincent Massey Tovell

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Massey College Common Room, Ron Thom

Vincent Massey Tovell passed away in May 2014. He was a talented broadcaster, a remarkable thinker, and a tireless supporter of the arts. In 2006, for the publication Concrete Toronto, ERA conducted an interview with Mr. Tovell on the subject of the modernist architecture of Toronto and the nation. Below we re-present this interview as a modest reminder of his contribution to our understanding of culture and the built environment in Canada. Continue reading…

Birnbaum on Toronto’s landscapes

Charles Birnbaum

On Wed. May 21, Charles Birnbaum from The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) spoke at Toronto’s Arts and Letters Club. This “Inside the Planner’s Studio” event was sponsored by the City of Toronto and attended by City staff in Parks, Urban Design, and Planning, as well as numerous professionals in architecture and landscape design. Charles introduced the work of TCLF and brought a useful third-party perspective to some of the issues faced by Toronto’s designed landscapes. Continue reading…

PechaKucha: Tower Renewal 101

Recently ERA’s Graeme Stewart presented a crash course in Tower Renewal at a Toronto PechaKucha event focused on urban innovation. The short, 7-minute talk covers half a century of Toronto’s history and, right up to some of the exciting new initiatives taking place in and around Toronto’s Tower Neighbourhoods.

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

Governor General Awards, 2014

medals

ERA is proud to have been involved in three out of twelve projects to receive Governor General’s Medals in Architecture in 2014. Please see details below:

Taylor house next to new addition

Sisters of St. Joseph, lead architect Shim-Sutcliffe. Jury comment: “This project shines for the care that was brought in creating a loving environment for the elderly.”

North facade, facing southeast

Bloor Gladstone Library, lead architect RDH. Jury comment: “This renovation and expansion of a distinctive historical library stands out for being both creative and respectful. The design re-imagines the entranceway and body of the original structure, adds a minimal glass addition and creates an intimate courtyard in the process.”

Oblique view

Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, lead architect KPMB. Jury comment: “Large glass volumes are anchored to an existing Victorian house and seem to float behind it.… [These] light volumes against the stately mansion…make a convincing use of contrasts.”

Congratulations to Shim-Sutcliffe, RDH, KPMB, and all the winning offices. Please see the media release at Architecture Canada.

Michael McClelland at the Getty: Toronto Towers

Michael McClelland speaks

Michael McClelland speaks

Michael McClelland spoke in 2013 to the Getty Conservation Institute’s “Colloquium to Advance the Practice of Conserving Modern Architecture.” The presentation discussed Toronto’s unique development of tower neighbourhoods in the context of modernist planning principles and modern heritage conservation. ERA advocates for an approach to the conservation of these neighbourhoods through a considered process of ‘Tower Renewal’ that understands not just the design value of the modernist buildings themselves, but also the context of the neighbourhoods they support and the progressive ideas they represent.

You can see a video of Michael’s presentation at the Getty Institute, or read an approximate transcript below: Continue reading…

Heritage Masonry with Dr. Gerard Lynch, May 13 to 22

Masons, heritage professionals, architects, historians, and all interested parties: We invite you to join us for a new installment of Dr. Gerard Lynch’s extraordinary courses in brickwork, May 13 to 22 at Evergreen Brickworks, Toronto.

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 detail in the mason’s art.

Update: We will also be joined May 20 to 22 by master mason Terry Mullarkey of J. Mullarkey & Sons Stonemasons, one of the top marble and stone masonry restoration companies in the world.

Continue reading…

Jane Jacobs Prize to Graeme Stewart & Sabina Ali

JJP

The 2014 Jane Jacobs Prize has been awarded to Graeme Stewart of ERA and Sabina Ali of the Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee.

According to the creators of the Jane Jacobs Prize, Ideas that Matter, this honour “celebrates individuals who contribute to the fabric of Toronto life in unique ways that exemplify the ideas of Jane Jacobs. The prize recipients reflect the diverse aspects of city life.” Continue reading…

New opportunities through zoning reform: Your feedback needed

Apartment towers and highway, night

Photo: Jesse Colin Jackson

The City of Toronto wants to bring more vitality and convenience to its Apartment Neighbourhoods. In March and April, a number of public consultations will be held to incorporate the ideas of community members.

A new zoning type, “Residential Apartment Commercial” (RAC), has been created to provide more amenities and more usable public space in selected neighbourhoods.

Continue reading…

Ghost wall: casting a heritage façade in concrete

Holt Renfrew 1912 web

As part of the development of the Bay Adelaide Centre East Tower, ERA is working with KPMB, Adamson Associates, and Brookfield Properties to conserve and refurbish two facades of an impressive four-storey masonry building constructed in 1850 and heavily renovated in 1910. Part of the interpretation of the history of this site involves making moulds from the heritage masonry and recasting these in concrete to construct additional sections of façade. Continue reading…

Botwood build: complete

As part of the Culture of Outports initiative, Andrew Pruss, Alana Young, Jordan Molnar, and Shelley Ludman recently collaborated with six Ryerson architecture students and residents of Botwood, Nfld. to design and build an intervention in the local landscape.

The “Viewfinder” is a wood-frame, open-plank pavilion that serves as a shade structure, windbreak, and a frame for significant heritage views of the locale. It is intended as a focal point for community engagement, a landmark to stimulate activity in the community, and a steppingstone toward the cultivation of future cultural and economic opportunities. Continue reading…

Light show on air field: Botwood, Nfld.

As part of the recent Culture of Outports project, our team of ERAers and Ryerson students has been collaborating with residents of Botwood Newfoundland for several days. In addition to meals, tours, history lessons, and collaborative design charrettes, the team got together to install dozens of ice candles (made by residents especially for our visit) to illuminate a strip of Botwood’s historic airfield. Continue reading…

We’re off to Botwood, Nfld.

As part of the Culture of Outports initiative, ERA’s Andrew Pruss, Alana Young, and Jordan Molnar are heading to Botwood Newfoundland from Feb. 15 to 22. Together with a group of Ryerson Architecture students, we’ll be collaborating with the community on a number of events, as well as the design and construction of an intervention in the local landscape. Continue reading…

The material library

A material library is a cataloged collection of real-world materials kept for research and reference. Often the library consists of recently released, innovative, or unusual products, but can also include more commonly used materials that are important to combine, compare, contrast etc., in their full materiality. Continue reading…

Irwin House: Floating in mid-air

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The historic John Irwin House (1873) was moved in 2013 from the west to the east side of this lot on Grenville near Yonge, in Toronto. Today it rests on a concrete slab and two concrete columns, suspended five storeys over solid ground. A new 50-storey condominium designed by architectsAlliance incorporates the John Irwin House into its podium. Continue reading…

The Star’s Big Ideas: GTA’s future in high-rise suburbs

Throughout the first part of 2014, the Toronto Star is running a series called “Big Ideas“,  asking Torontonians to think big about the future of the region. What type of Toronto do we want to create in the years to come?

For our contribution to this series, we discuss Tower Renewal as the key to realizing the region’s potential. The piece can be found at Here at thestar.com, or below: Continue reading…

Charrette: Healthy Corner Stores

On Saturday January 18, The East Scarborough Storefront hosted a public design charrette with partners United Way Toronto, Toronto Public Health (TPH), Sustainable TO, Architext, and ERA. Saturday’s discussion focused on TPH’s new program “Healthy Corner Stores,” a project that proposes to give suburban communities better access to fresh produce, and other healthy food options, through convenience stores.

Healthy Corner Stores is part of the growing Tower Renewal initiative, which aims to bring new amenities, healthy choices, and life on the street to Toronto’s tower neighbourhoods. Continue reading…

Gemini House in the Globe

In a recent article in the Globe & Mail, Dave LeBlanc explains how Gemini House provides a new, sustainable model for heritage homes.

The Gemini NTED approach, developed by U of T’s Kim Pressnail and Ryerson’s Russell Richman, is a new way to engineer low-energy housing. The idea is to put a box within a box, separating the home into a thermally isolated “core” and “periphery.” Continue reading…