ERA Architects

Gaspé: Vernacular Architecture Forum

This June, ERA’s Victoria Angel and Michael McClelland attended the Vernacular Architecture Forum’s annual conference “The Ebb and Flow of Religion and Economy in Gaspé Cultural Landscapes.” Victoria and Michael were part of a keynote panel discussing approaches to heritage conservation in smaller communities and rural settings.

Gaspé, Québec is located on the northern tip of the Appalachians just at the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The bilingual conference explored two major themes: religious expressions (beyond organized churches), and economic evolution in Gaspé’s cultural landscapes. Continue reading…

GEMINI House: Construction has begun

This summer, construction began at GEMINI House, a collaboration in low-energy retrofit research between the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. Professors Kim Pressnail and Russell Richman are the research leads, and ERA is the architect of record. The project explores new approaches to low-energy housing design, with the added complexity of being executed within an 1880s Second Empire-style masonry home, located on the UofT campus. Continue reading…

ERA BBQ, 2013

We smoked cigars, blew bubbles, told humourous anecdotes, ate, drank, chased after obstreperous children, and mopped our brows in thirty-plus weather.

On the menu this year: hara bhara kebabs (“full-of-green” kebabs), “new age” watermelon salad, and several competing varieties of gourmet potato salad. For dessert: Greek honey balls, Newfoundland blueberry puff, Trinidadian rum cake, and Persian sholeh zard, which, we are given to understand, means “sloppy yellow.”

Thanks to Sonya and Anusha for organizing, and Andrew and Tony for hosting. Until next year!

Concrete Toronto on spacing.ca

ERA is pleased to announce that this summer spacing.ca will be republishing several articles from our book, Concrete Toronto: a guidebook to concrete architecture from the fifties to the seventies.

The book, published by Coach House Books in 2007, reconsiders Toronto’s large inventory of concrete buildings and infrastructure from the perspective of a diverse group architects, city planners, academics, historians, and journalists. Continue reading…

Port Union Community Build

The Culture of Outports program has just concluded its third year of “community build” projects in Trinity Bay North, Newfoundland. The project uses planning and design thinking to bring new ideas and energy to outport communities experiencing economic and social change post-fisheries.

This year ERAers Andrew Pruss, Alana Young, Shelley Ludman, Douglas de Gannes, traveled with Ryerson students Madeleine Craig, Ryan Giuricich, Mitchell May, Elijah Sabadlan, and Karl Sarkis to the Trinity Bay North communities of Catalina, Little Catalina, Melrose, and Port Union. Continue reading…

ERA in Nfld.: Update

This week in Trinity Bay North, Newfoundland, the 2013 Culture of Outports project got a great start on its community build process. The community is fantastic and we’re having a great time.

In its first week the team has toured the local landscape and architecture extensively, held several community engagement meetings, mounted a historical slide show in the street, and installed 1000 feet of Christmas lights along Main St. to commemorate an early electrical power station built in Port Union in 1917. Continue reading…

New video doc on Sharon Temple

Video producer Vanessa Ireson has recently made an excellent short documentary about one of ERA’s favourite projects: Sharon Temple. The Temple was completed in 1832 by the Children of Peace, a group of former Quakers who, among other things, advocated for peace and democracy and created the first credit union in Canada. The building is a masterpiece in wood and a monument to a fascinating part of 19th century Canadian culture.

In the video, curator John McIntyre and ERAer Jan Kubanek introduce viewers to the history of the Temple and its design, as well as the recent restoration and preservation project led by ERA.

Many thanks to Vanessa Ireson, who produced the video through the generous support of Co-op TV at the Co-operators.

Seoul: its heritage and its future

ERA’s Sharon Hong was recently published in Transforming Asian Cities, a new book edited by Nihal Perera and Wing-Shing Tang for Routledge. According to Perera and Tang, Asian cities are too often thought of as “following global models” and “Western-dominated urban hierarchies and spatial structures.” This new publication, however, aims to provide “inside-out” interpretations of Asian urbanism. Continue reading…

Erik Freudenthal of Sweden

This April, ERA was pleased to co-host a special presentation by Erik Freudenthal, the Director of Information for Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm. In his discussion of this innovative “Symbiocity” approach to urban development, Erik demonstrated that low-carbon, sustainable communities really are achievable given a) the proper commitment and b) the appropriate strategies for material and resource management.

The event also brought to light some of the similarities between Sweden and Ontario: as regions with comparable sizes and populations, we can learn from each others’ efforts in northern urbanism. Continue reading…

Micallef: Canada’s identity, modernist architecture

If there is a character that unites Canada across its many regions, says Shawn Micallef of Spacing, it could well be our huge stock of post-war modernist architecture.

From well-known innovations such as Montreal’s Habitat ’67, Toronto’s CN Tower, or Burnaby’s Simon Fraser University; to the thousands of lower-profile urban and suburban low-, mid-, and high-rise buildings that serve as our residences, universities, schools, malls, factories, and corporate headquarters, Canada is a nation stitched together with modernist fabric. Every urban area, it seems, has its share of brutalist concrete slab towers, curtain-glass minimalist icons, geodesic domes, and long elegant bungalows with exaggerated eaves. Continue reading…

On Scarpa’s Castelvecchio

Having returned from a trip to Verona, ERAer Ryan Love recently presented to the office on his experience of the amazing Castelvecchio, a fine example of medieval Gothic architecture, completed in 1355. The castle was built as a fortified home for the Lord of Verona, Cangrande II della Scala, and has over the years seen many occupants and undergone many adaptations, the most recent in the 1960s by Carlo Scarpa. The result is an incredibly complex and subtle approach to heritage conservation and adaptive reuse. Continue reading…

Canada Screen Award to NFB’s “Highrise”

Last week the NFB’s Highrise: One Millionth Tower won a Canada Screen Award for “Original Program Produced for Digital Media, Non-Fiction.” ERA and the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R) had the pleasure of working with the NFB on this remarkable series, directed by Kat Cizek, which examines the current conditions and future potential of post-war high-rise living around the world. Continue reading…

Fundraiser for Kenyan school a success

Recently, ERA Architects sponsored a silent auction and evening of drinks and hors d’oeuvres to raise funds for the continued construction of  Oleleshwa Primary School in Kenya. The January 2013 fundraiser garnered over $14,000, making the total raised-to-date over $50,000, not including labour and in-kind donations, which have also been significant.

Continue reading…

ERA in Port Union, Nfld.

ERA has begun consultations with the William Coaker Foundation and Port Union, Newfoundland, as part of the Culture of Outports program, and will be leading an exciting on-site project there in June 2013.

Culture of Outports is a series of projects that uses research, design, and planning to engage and help support livable communities undergoing economic and cultural change after the decline of the Northern Cod Fishery. Continue reading…

ERA in Buffalo

Recently, ERAers Alana Young and Josh Thorpe took trips to investigate the fascinating city of Buffalo, New York. Less than two hours from Toronto by car, Buffalo is a city of major historical significance to the region and has some stunning work in planning and architecture. Continue reading…

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…