ERA Architects

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

irwin on stilts1small

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…

Military infrastructure designation, UK

Prior to joining the office, ERA’s Alex Rowse-Thompson spent several years as a Conservation and Design Officer in Gosport, an ancient naval town in the UK. As part of this work, Alex advocated for the heritage designation of an unusual piece of 20th century military infrastructure in Gosport: No. 2 Cavitation Tunnel. Recently, this advocacy proved successful, and the Tunnel was designated by English Heritage. Continue reading…

Hamilton Heritage Inventory

Recently, ERA’s Michael McClelland and Victoria Angel spoke to a group of approximately 80 people at the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton regarding ERA’s role in Hamilton’s Downtown Built Heritage Inventory (DBHI) project.

The DBHI project is a pilot project to review and update information about 789 downtown properties on the Inventory of Buildings of Architectural and / or Historical Interest (within the area bounded by Wellington, Queen, Hunter, and Cannon streets). A preliminary assessment of the heritage value of these properties is also being carried out. Continue reading…

Gemini green retrofit

Last week, work was completed on the interior of GEMINI House, a collaboration with University of Toronto and Ryerson University. The House is an experiment in retrofitting a historic home with sustainable engineering. The GEMINI approach uses two thermal zones, a core and periphery, to make more appropriate use of heating and energy consumption throughout the year. Continue reading…

Infrastructure: new vision for Ontario

Provincial Transportation Minister Glen Murray is proposing exciting changes to the way infrastructure is planned and designed in Ontario.

The proposed “Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act” contains important new criteria including sustainability, greater alignment with existing provincial plans, longer-term and more complete ROI rationales, and, we are pleased to see, the mandated inclusion of architects and designers in infrastructure projects. Continue reading…

Toronto / Sweden: Resilient Urbanism

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Over the past several years we’ve had the pleasure of an ongoing exchange with colleagues in Sweden regarding urban design. This has included a series of research tours, participation in the neighbourhood design project Selma in Göteborg, and various events in collaboration with the Swedish consulate here in Toronto. The aim of the exchange is to tackle the challenge of  achieving sustainable and resilient urbanism in northern locales. Continue reading…

Tafelmusik renovations unveiled

Oct. 3th 2013, Tafelmusik held its first public concert in a transformed concert hall at Trinity-St. Paul’s. ERA worked with acoustician Bob Essert and other consultants to restore and repair elements of the space, and improve its sound. According to all involved, the result is a success.

Continue reading…

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!