ERA Architects

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.

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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.

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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.

RAC Zoning Approved for 500 Sites

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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

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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.

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Jane Jacobs Prize to Graeme Stewart & Sabina Ali

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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…