ERA Architects

Toronto’s Cultural Heritage Landscapes: From Plan to Action


On Saturday, November 5th, from 9:00am – 4:30pm in room #308 of Metro Hall (55 John Street) the Community Preservation Panels of the City of Toronto are hosting a discussion about how Cultural Heritage Landscapes (CHL’s) should be approached as part of city building and heritage conservation processes.

Cultural Heritage Landscapes are defined by the province as “a defined geographical area of cultural heritage significance that has been modified by human activities and is valued by a community”

The subject is timely as recent updates to Toronto’s Official Plan create stronger direction for the protection of CHL’s in the city.

The Forum is being organized to raise an awareness of the issues surrounding the topic and to inspire the development of what could become a Toronto Cultural Heritage Landscape Guideline. Members of the public are welcome to attend and are encouraged to actively participate in the sessions and discussions, which are focused around the questions:

What are they and why are they important?
What is our experience? and
How do we protect them?

Forum Speakers:
Carolyn King, Former Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation
Julian Smith, Architect and Director, Willowbank Centre for Cultural Landscape
Brendan Stewart, Landscape Architect and Urban Designer, ERA Architects
Wendy Shearer, landscape Architect, Cultural Heritage Specialist
Stephen Robinson, Senior Heritage Planner, City of Guelph
Mark Warrack, Manager of Culture and Planning, City of Mississauga
Catherine Nasmith, Architect and President, ACO
Madeleine McDowell, Educator and Heritage Advocate
Micahel McClelland, Founding Principal, ERA Architects and Member, Advisory Council of the Cultural Landscape Foundation
Mary MacDonald, Senior manager, Heritage Preservation Services, City of Toronto

Paul Bedford, Urban Mentor, Former Chief Planner, City of Toronto

Alex Bozikovic, Architecture Critic, The Globe and Mail

ERA Celebrates Project Wins at the 2016 Heritage Toronto Awards Ceremony


Heritage Toronto held its annual awards ceremony on Monday, October 17th, 2016. The event was held at the Isabel Bader Theatre, Victoria College, University of Toronto and was hosted by the former host of CBC Radio’s Fresh Air, Mary Ito. This year’s Kilbourn Lecturer was Dr. Steven High, Professor of History at Concordia University. The awards ceremony was preceded by the Mayor’s Reception, during which Councilor Mike Layton spoke about the importance of heritage conservation in architecture.

The jury considers such things as the quality of craftsmanship, appropriateness of materials, and the use of sound conservation principles, as well as how well the project meets current needs while maintaining the integrity of the original design vision.

ERA is proud to be a part of four awarded recipient teams and two honourable mentions. The following projects were recognized:

Award of Excellence: The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto’s First Immigrant Neighbourhood
Editors: John Lorinc, Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg & Tatum Taylor
Publisher: Coach House Books

Award of Excellence: The Don Jail
Commissioned by: Bridgepoint Active Healthcare
Planning, Design and Compliance Architects: ERA Architects, Stantec Architecture, KPMB Architects
Design, Build, Finance, Maintain Architects: VG Architects, HDR Architecture, Diamond Schmitt Architects

Award of Merit: Church of the Redeemer
Commissioned by: University of Toronto
Architectural/Design Firms: ERA Architects Inc.
Heritage Contractor: Clifford Restoration Limited

Award of Merit: Imperial Plaza
Commissioned by: Camrost-Felcorp
Architectural/Design Firm: Onespace Unlimited Inc., ERA Architects Inc.

Honourable Mention: 2532 Yonge Street
Commissioned by: Edgecombe Realty Advisors, Inc.
Architectural/Design Firm: ERA Architects Inc.

Honourable Mention: Hermant Building, 19 – 21 Dundas Square
Commissioned by: HNR Properties Ltd.
Architectural/Design Firm: ERA Architects Inc.

For more information click here.

Welcome to Blackhurst Street at Markham House

Celebrating the History and Entrepreneurial Excellence of the Black Community
at Bathurst and Bloor

Curated by Chinedu Ukabam
October 15-November 27, 2016
Now extended until December 11th!

Markham House: City Building Lab
610 Markham St, Toronto, ON
Thursday/Friday | 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Saturday/Sunday | 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM


Once considered the “Grand Central Station” of Toronto’s black community, Bathurst Station is overlooked as a focal point of the city’s black heritage. Since the late 1960s, Bathurst and Bloor has been a thriving hub of black entrepreneurship, activism, and creativity. The cornerstone of Beverly Mascoll’s multi-million dollar beauty supplies empire was located at 870 Bathurst, also occupied by Third World Books and Crafts and 2 Black Guys, one of Toronto’s earliest “streetwear” labels which started in the basement. Just down the road, Al Hamilton founded the pivotal black newspaper Contrast in 28 Lennox, a building later occupied by the Ashanti Room, an Afrocentric arts hub.  Today, Lloyd’s Barbershop and A Different Booklist remain important and vibrant multigenerational gathering spaces that reflect the legacy and contributions of Black Torontonians to the development of the City.

“Welcome to Blackhurst Street” is an exhibition that commemorates and celebrates the Black history of Bathurst and Bloor using archival material and original artwork. The exhibition also examines the current state of the community and its future role in shaping our City. Conceptualized as an immersive exploration of black artistry, activism, and entrepreneurship the installation weaves together elements of visual art, photography, archival documents, video, sound, and found objects from the Contrast Archives, Honest Ed’s, the Mirvish Family Collection, and other sources.

Welcome to Blackhurst Street is made possible by Chinedu Ukabam, A Different Booklist, ERA Architects Inc, Monograph Design, the Ontario Black History Society and Westbank.

The public is invited to share their knowledge of this history and these places by contributing stories, ephemera, and suggestions either via email ( or comment boxes located at:

Markham House: City Building Lab
610 Markham St, Toronto, ON M6G 2L8

Lloyd’s Barber Shop
858 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M5R 3G3

A Different Booklist
746 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M5S 1Z5

Star Treatments Natural & Organic
606 Markham St, Toronto, ON M6G 2L8

Media Links
Welcome to Blackhurst Street Exhibition
Hashtag             #WelcomeToBlackhurst

Social Media     @westbankcorp
Hashtag              #buildingartistry

Markham House: City Building Lab
Websites    /
Social Media     @villagemirvish

Chinedu Ukabam
Twitter                @Chinedesign
Social Media     @SUPAFRIK

ERA Architects
Social Media    @eraarch

Media contact
Felicia Morrison, coordinator
Main 416 583 5888 ext. 2001

The Broadview Hotel: Everything Old is New Again


Riverside welcomes a revitalized neighbor this fall in the form of The Broadview Hotel, a landmark building at the northwest corner of Queen and Broadview, completed in 1891-2, for oilman and soap maker Archibald Dingman.

The building’s architecture hails from the same period as Toronto’s Old City Hall, with ornate exterior terracotta pan­els depicting animals and other figures. The hotel is the most prominent and architecturally significant structure in the area. Its renewal is a wel­come contribution to the overall growth of the Riverside neigh­bourhood, and a visible manifestation of the area’s transformation from its recent past.

The official unveiling on October 5th, 2016 included the reveal of a heritage plaque, the removal of the scaffolding and the lighting of the facade. The interior renovations will not be completed until spring 2017.  The rehabilitation of the exterior of the building reflects the efforts of the project teams to renew the hotel and restore the building to its proper place in Toronto’s historic fabric.

The conservation strategy for the site was rehabilitation and restoration, to maintain the key architectural features of the building while constructing an addition and ensuring it con­tinued to house street-related commercial uses as a restaurant, cafe, hotel and rooftop terrace. The project supports the collaborative commitment and investment of time, energy, visioning and financial re­sources of ERA Architects and Streetcar Developments in fostering ‘culturally rich and livable communities’ in the downtown core.

Link to project profile:

‘Girls Can Too’ Provides Participants with Hands-On Learning Opportunities

Bolton Camp

ERA’s Janice Quieta and Shelley Ludman were able to spend a few summer days at the Bolton Camp with a group of ambitious young women, to help them consider career paths that might otherwise not be an obvious choice. The Girls Can Too program offers hands-on construction and ecology learning opportunities to young women, while fostering innovation, collaboration and professional development skills that will benefit them in the longer term. Continue reading…

Thorncliffe Park – Café and Market in the Park

Throughout September 2016, Thorncliffe Park will host a cultural café, music, art and storytelling circles in its R.V. Burgess Park. These events, taking place each Saturday of the month, are spearheaded by the Thorncliffe Park Action Group (TAG), a dynamic collective responsible for the cultural café, and their supporting partner organization, Diasporic Genius. For the second year, ERA has been an active partner in this initiative, working alongside these organizations to design and build a unique mobile landscape.

Continue reading…

The Picturesque Gothic Villa Comes to Town: The Emergence of Toronto’s Bay-and-Gable House Type

Fig 2. 1879 24-26 elgin (good)

In a recent issue of ‘Architecture in Canada’ (Vol. 41, Issue #1), Principal Architect Scott Weir has composed an article that celebrates the typology of the bay-and-gable house. The issue is currently available in hard copy and will be posted on the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada’s (SSAC) website in the coming month. The text that follows is an excerpt.

Continue reading…

TORONTO – NEW YORK: Design by Example

“A new platform by which designers of these two great cities may share innovations and best practices with the common goal of enhancing the build environment.”- Mary Rusz

This September, at the invitation of the AIA New York Housing and Planning and Urban Design Committees, ERA’s Michael McClelland, Graeme Stewart and Ya’el Santopinto participated in a panel in New York on Toronto’s modern heritage and Tower Renewal. The panel discussion took place at the Centre for Architecture in as part of a series designed to share ideas and best practices between Toronto and New York. Also on the panel were Leo deSorcy (City of Toronto) and Derek Ballantyne.

When: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016
Where: The Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, NY, NY 10012



Graeme Stewart, Prinicpal, ERA Architects
Leo deSorcy, Program Manager of Urban Design, City of Toronto
Derek Ballantyne, CEO, Encassa Financial, Inc.
Ya’el Santopinto, Project Manager, ERA Architects
Michael McClelland, Founding Principal, ERA Architects

Moderator: Susanne Schindler, Co-author, Growing Urban Habitats: Seeking a New Housing Development Model

For more information please click here.

New Approaches to Heritage Documentation

UC 4

University College is the founding college at the University of Toronto and the oldest building on the St. George campus. Built in the Romanesque-Revival style by Cumberland & Storm, when opened in 1859 it was among the most important buildings in the country. In 1968 this status was further confirmed with the building’s designation by the national historic sites and monuments board. Continue reading…

Teaching-based Professionals, Business-based Researchers

The magazine Landscapes: Landscape Architecture in Canada/Paysages: L’architecture de Paysage au Canada examines and explores pertinent issues in the field of landscape architecture. In their latest issue (Vol. 18, No. 2), the article “Active Praxis, Hybrid Practice,” written by Shelley Long, takes a look into the new hybrid practices found in landscape architecture, in both teaching-based and business-based environments, wherein academics and professionals are experimenting with interdisciplinary thinking to formulate new ideas, inspire innovation, and move the profession forward.

Teaching-based professionals included Marc Boutin from Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative (MBAC) in Calgary, Alissa and Pete North from North Design Office of Toronto, and Dietmar Straub and Anna Thurmayr from Straub + Thurmary Landschaftarchiteken of Winnipeg. These individuals integrate their academic research into their landscape architecture practice to inform new methods and engage the public. Texture City (MBAC), Core Sample installations (North Design Office, 2006), and the Folly Forest project (Straub + Thurmayr Landschaftarchiteken) are all excellent examples of academic risk-taking and interdisciplinary innovation.

Business-based research and innovation relies on a creative office culture that supports and promotes interdisciplinary research and experimentation. Firms that encourage this experimental approach include ERA Architects, located in Toronto, Montreal, and Prince Edward County, Claude Cormier + Associés (CC+A) in Montreal, and the Hapa Collaborative in Vancouver. Each of these firms has advanced the field of landscape architecture through collaborative projects and community-based initiatives. For example, ERA has worked with community members to establish the non-profit group Friends of Allan Gardens (FOAG), and helped organize, alongside Janet Rosenberg and Studio and The Cultural Landscape Foundation, the first-ever conference in Canada on cultural landscapes. ERA also helped in the administration of the Tower Renewal project, which began as a thesis and is now a forceful project that will transform the future of Toronto’s tower neighbourhoods. CC+A’s design for Berczy Park in Toronto and Hapa Collaborative’s Mid Main Park’s “bendy-straw” trellis are also excellent examples of innovative projects propelled by research and experimentation.

Our Evolving Leadership Team

Congratulations to our new Associates!

ERA Architects is proud to announce the designation of two staff members to the position of Associate. Julie Tyndorf and Jessie Grebenc have both demonstrated commitment to our core values of heritage conservation, city building engagement, and democratic community design. We thank them for their continued efforts and welcome them in their new roles!

Julie Tyndorf
As an experienced development planner in Toronto, Julie offers valuable insight into the municipal approvals process, and specializes in the interpretation and preparation of complex policy and assessment documents. Beyond these technical abilities, Julie embraces a collaborative approach to planning that values diversity, vibrancy, and sustainability of both culture and built form. Julie has played a key role in the development of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Plans for such projects as St. Michael’s Hospital and 1 Spadina Crescent – University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty of Architecture.

Jessie Grebenc
Possessing a special interest in the conservation of masonry structures, Jessie has gained extensive experience in building analysis, the production of contract documents, field review and project administration on a range of complex masonry projects such as St. James Cathedral and Casey House. She has studied masonry conservation at various institutions in Canada and the UK.

At ERA Architects Jessie has worked on a variety of projects that deal with restoration and building conservation at all stages in the architectural process. She has also worked on several residential properties that involve renovation, major additions and new construction.


The Honest Ed’s Project: A Contemporary Intangible Heritage Project – Guest Blog by Jay Pitter


My interest in the redevelopment of Honest Ed’s and the surrounding neighbourhood is informed by my work in placemaking and stakeholder engagement — and also childhood memories. Prior to becoming a senior healthcare professional, my single mom worked at a series of low-income jobs. She moved in and out of our tiny apartment like a streak of light in an unfocused photograph. Sometimes she slowed down long enough to take me on an excursion to Honest Ed’s.

I loved everything about the store. The vibrant lights. The way my mom looked at me in delight when I read the hand-painted signs aloud. The way children could run about and speak using our outside voices unlike those fancy shops.

Although I was young, I knew my mother struggled to support my sister and I. Yet she happily filled our cart with canned fish, laundry detergent and sweets, which she later shipped to relatives in the Caribbean. Having immigrated to Canada at four years old, I had no memory of these relatives but I sensed that this ritual was an important one for my mother. Upon learning about the redevelopment of the site, I reflected on this experience and it dawned on me that Honest Ed’s is one of the places where I was taught accountability and giving. Although this part of my personal narrative holds significance for me, it’s not particularly unique. Almost every Torontonian has a special Honest Ed’s story.

Stories are a good way to think through rapidly changing urban neighbourhoods. Local mythology, memory and shared values are as consequential to shaping inclusive and vibrant communities as the height and siting of buildings, greenspace and accessibility. Increasingly, intangible heritage approaches are incorporating strategic storytelling components. Specifically, I sought to initiate an intangible heritage project that would incorporate the voices of stakeholders often excluded from official local history and urban development processes; not as an act of conservation but as a form of “community practice” and meaningful engagement.

My idea was a simple one. I enlisted a photographer and a couple of volunteers. Together we would stand on the corner of Honest Ed’s from 2:30p.m. – 2:30a.m. and ask strangers to share their Honest Ed’s stories. This timeframe was integral to the process because the character of a place and the people who occupy it transitions throughout the day. A street filled with families seeking organic fruit markets and trendy patios begins to shift at dinner time. When this same group is settling in for an evening of Netflix, hipsters and Hip Hop fans start heading out to entertainment venues. Street-involved activities begin to surface as club DJs begin their sound checks. Later in the night, “invisible” factory and restaurant workers descend from the all-night bus while people without housing start making difficult decisions about their sleeping accommodations. Because I wanted to speak to everyone, it was imperative to brave the twelve hours of standing, sloppy propositions and unrelenting techno beats emanating from local clubs.

And it was worth it. I curated almost one hundred stories. A married couple shared memories of their first date exploring the store. A historian brought me a kitschy tea cup she purchased for her mother as a broke student beaming that it was incorporated into the family’s prized Royal Doulton China collection. A woman living on social assistance shared her fear of losing her affordable healthy food market.

Then I met Martin.

Martin was an elderly man, weathered and slightly suspicious, as individuals who have experienced the world are entitled to be. I answered each of his questions about the project carefully, and at times, felt like I was the one being “interviewed”. When satisfied by my responses, he opened up his wallet. I leaned in, intrigued. He produced a black and white photo of a much younger man. “This is me, the only holocaust survivor in my entire family,” he said.

I forgot to breathe, but he didn’t notice. He was too busy searching for what seemed like rarely spoken words to describe experiences of an unspeakable time. He shared the despair and loneliness of struggling in several Nazi extermination and concentration camps, including the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau. When the war ended he sought to get far away from its remnants and so he left Hungary for Canada. His first job was working in a mattress factory. “I liked my job and even better I met a beautiful girl,” he beamed.

His hands shook slightly as he produced another photo, of a young woman who could easily pass for a Hollywood starlet. Soon they married and he dared to place enough faith in the world to bring children into it. Sons were born. After work Martin would often go to Honest Ed’s, then called the Honest Ed’s Bargain House, to purchase items for his family. He told me that each time he entered the store he felt a sense of hope. After living through the holocaust he could not believe that a Jewish business owner could be safe and embraced by so many people. And so he kept coming to the store for this powerful, and perhaps healing, reminder.

A lot happened during the over half century that Martin regularly visited Honest Ed’s. The “pretty girl” that helped him to build a new family was lost to cancer. His children moved away. And now, with the store’s redevelopment, he would experience more change. Within the context of global cities like Toronto, change is particularly rapid and complex. Intangible heritage approaches provide us with an opportunity to ensure that we understand the “community practice” of places, ensure that the voices of Indigenous and other historically marginalized communities are heard and honour the experiences of individuals like Martin.


Jay Pitter established a career as a public funder and then a communications and public engagement director before earning a graduate degree at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. Her work is focused on inclusive stakeholder engagement, placemaking and city-building initiatives. She has been a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto and York University, and was recently a faculty member at the University of Guelph-Humber. Her writing credits include Spacing, CBC Radio, the Toronto Star and the Coach House Books anthology Subdivided, which she contributed to and co-edited.








Growing Pains: An Evergreen Cityworks and The Globe and Mail Documentary on Urban Growth

‘As our population continues to grow, how will the region accommodate both present and future needs?’ This is the question that Growing Pains asks after summarizing how urban growth in the greater horseshoe evolved over the past half century and in light of the prospect of another two million residents arriving in the region over the next 20 years.

The provincial Places to Grow Act was passed in 2005 with the hope of curbing unsustainable growth through urban density and Greenbelt protection. The three-part documentary series, directed by Gregory Greene explores the catalysts that led to the creation of the act, the related challenges the region has faced and what the future holds.



Flashback Friday: A Jane’s Walk Down Memory Lane

TTG2016 eventbrite0406

ERA loves the Jane’s Walk festival. Not only do the walks encourage citizens to share stories, explore communities, and connect with neighbours, they also provide platforms for discussing important urban, suburban, and rural issues that affect communities across the world. The Jane’s Walk festival is a global event that is celebrated in over 200 cities, and we’re excited that it’s just around the corner! From May 6-8, join in this worldwide event and lead or join a walk. Continue reading…

“The Preservers”


In their Winter 2016 issue, On The Up magazine, which focuses on urbanism, travel, and culture, Scott Weir, a Principal at ERA, was featured alongside Sherry Phillips and Sarah van Maaren in their article titled “The Preservers.” Continue reading…

Heroic Has Arrived


It’s here! The much-anticipated book Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston, which focuses on Boston’s emerging concrete buildings of the 1960s and 1970s, is now available for sale. ERA had previously posted a blog in preparation for it’s release, and now we’re excited it’s finally arrived. You can buy the book at Amazon and Chapters. Continue reading…