ERA Architects

The Legacy Lives On: Hamilton’s Built Heritage Inventory as an emerging practice in historic urban landscape stewardship

ERA Associate Victoria Angel’s article in Plan Magazine’s Winter Issue ‘Urban heritage: A living legacy’ on the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) Recommendation (2011) illustrates its implications and emerging practices, using the City of Hamilton’s Built Heritage Inventory as a case-study. The recommendation encourages a more holistic, integrative approach to urban heritage conservation, focusing on the urban landscape. It proposes that future considerations around urban development should enhance sustainability, functionality, inclusivity, place-making and local identities. Governments have experimented with its implementation, in spite of the complexity of the various urban systems.

Practices that have emerged as a result include a greater use of community consultation, and the characterization of large urban areas through the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), which integrate well with other municipal information systems.

Hamilton’s Built Heritage Inventory process was adopted by its City Council in the spring of 2014 and was the subject of a paper by Victoria Angel, Angela Garvey and Mikael Sydor that was published by the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. The City of Hamilton intends to implement the strategy one neighbourhood at a time, at a citywide level.

By incorporating the HUL’s recommendations, ‘…Citywide surveys and inventories, landscape characterization, and an understanding of people’s perceptions of the places they inhabit could, in the future, be used by cities to identify a much broader range of conservation opportunities, better understand an area’s capacity to change and evolve, and reposition historic resources to serve as the springboard and foundation for new development….’

Article in CIP’s PLAN Canada Journal: http://www.kelmanonline.com/httpdocs/files/CIP/plancanadawinter2017/index.html
Related content: http://www.eraarch.ca/2017/hamiltons-durand-built-heritage-inventory-project-incorporates-digital-innovation-to-develop-a-citywide-approach-to-heritage-planning/
http://www.eraarch.ca/project/hamilton-downtown-built-heritage-inventory/
http://www.eraarch.ca/2013/9295/

All images courtesy of ERA Architects.

62 – 64 Charles Street: The Lost Craft of Tuck-pointing Returns

Tuck-pointing was developed by the English back in the late 17th century and was practiced all the way up to the early 20th century. Historic preservationist/educator Michael Shellenbarger states in a 1993 essay titled Tuck Pointing History and Confusion the correct definition of tuck-pointing (based on historical precedents) is:

…… a masonry jointing that uses mortar in two colours to simulate the appearance of narrow joints. The actual joint is disguised with a flush mortar tinted to appear similar to the colour of masonry units. A joint like groove (the tuck) is often cut into this flush joint. Then mortar of a contrasting colour is added onto the flush joint and into the groove and is shaped and trimmed into a narrow false joint, which usually projects slightly. This line gives the appearance of a narrow projecting jointing.    

Completed properly, tuck-pointing is the most highly skilled of all pointing finishes. It creates the illusion of finely pointed gauged brickwork, enhancing the quality of appearance of buildings constructed of damaged or irregular bricks.

62 – 64 Charles Street East, an ERA project where recent conservation work has restored the tuck-pointed building to its former glory under the expert hand of Hunt Heritage. This is the largest application of the process that ERA has been involved with, and it’s an exemplar for bringing this lost craft back to the city. The project was undertaken in the late summer of 2015 and completed in late spring of 2017.

As heritage consultants ERA strived to protect the value, significance and integrity of the heritage assets. The work required a full conservation scope on the semi-detached house, that included the rarely-seen craft of tuck-pointing for which National Trust (Aus) award-winning Tuck-pointer Antoni Pijaca was hired to share his expertise and the secrets of his trade.

The Charles Street project was honoured last fall with a 2017 CAHP Award of Excellence —Materials, Craftsmanship and Construction. ERA is continuing to feature this technique prominently through work on the Selby Hotel at 592 Sherbourne, which is set to be completed in the summer.

For more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxPc6_2R-Hc
Article by Dave LeBlanc in the Globe and Mail: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/toronto/the-lost-art-of-tuckpointing-reborn-intoronto/article37802073/

Related content: http://www.eraarch.ca/2017/capitalizing-on-heritage-awarding-conservation-materials-craftsmanship-and-construction/
http://www.eraarch.ca/2017/era-learns-the-fine-art-of-tuckpointing-from-a-melbourne-based-master/
http://www.eraarch.ca/2012/tuckpointing-a-note-on-detail/

 

In-House Experts: Barrier-Free Design and Heritage Buildings

At ERA we thrive on finding new uses for existing buildings and integrating the heritage fabric of our city into contemporary designs. One of the ways we approach conservation of existing fabric is through modifications to buildings and cultural landscapes that enable all users to enjoy our shared heritage. Many heritage structures are not barrier-free by today’s standards: the main entrances often are only accessible by stairs, they have heavy doors without automatic operators, the washrooms don’t accommodate wheelchair users, the stairs don’t have the tactile and colour-contrasting nosing that aid users with low-vision in navigating them.

Improving upon our heritage fabric to create a more accessible environment requires a careful and sensitive approach. Whereas a barrier-free approach to a new building design is integrated from the very beginning, a barrier-free retrofit requires considering the impact of the alterations on the historical features of the building: How can we position a new entrance ramp to minimize its visual impact? How can we modify existing doors to accommodate power door operators without damaging the existing fabric? How can we renovate an existing washroom to allow for universal access? What materials can we use to provide tactile and colour-contrasting nosing without negatively impacting a historical wood stair?

Two of our most recent projects in downtown Toronto feature smart designs that integrate barrier-free features into the existing fabric of heritage structures: the Sultan Street Development and 330 University Avenue.

The Sultan Street Development features the integration of a row of red brick Romanesque houses with a new office tower development designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects (HPA). As the original entries to the heritage houses featured a series of steps up to the doors, they impeded the possibility for barrier-free access from the street. ERA proposed a simple modification to the entrances which lowered the doors to street level and enabled barrier-free access without the need for a ramp or elevating device.

At 330 University Avenue (also known as the Canada Life Building), ERA took a different approach to providing barrier-free access. In this case, the existing steps to this Beaux Arts building were maintained and a ramp was designed to allow barrier-free entry through one of the three main doors off University. In addition, the original bronze and glass doors were equipped with power door operators to ensure a fully barrier-free path of travel to the public lobby.

Post by guest writer Max Yuristy.
All photos courtesy of ERA Architects.

Archaeology in The Ward: A New Exhibit

Just a few steps northwest of Toronto’s city hall is a quiet, empty plot of land and a former parking lot that will soon be the home of the new Toronto courthouse. But long before this site was just a place to park, it was a bustling part of St John’s Ward (The Ward), an area where newcomers to Toronto established themselves for over a century. In 2015, Infrastructure Ontario (IO), on behalf of the Ministry of the Attorney General, led a complex excavation and archaeological dig of the new Toronto courthouse site which revealed tens of thousands of artifacts from The Ward, providing an unprecedented level of insight into Toronto’s early multicultural history. As part of the heritage interpretation efforts for the site, IO and the City of Toronto developed a partnership to create opportunities to share the artifacts and their stories in four display cases at City Hall.

Archaeology in The Ward display case, showing a selection of bottles and glassware recovered from the excavation site. An enlarged Goad’s Insurance Map of Toronto shows the site in context.

ERA Architects is no stranger to the histories related to The Ward—Michael McClelland and Tatum Taylor helped to literally write the book. As heritage professionals and editors of ‘The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto’s First Immigrant Neighbourhood’ (Coach House Books, 2015), they were well positioned to approach the exhibition project with a comprehensive understanding of the site context along with the ability to provide powerful interpretations for the subjects reflected by the artifacts. ERA has been pleased to offer our expertise in this unique documentation of Toronto’s history, providing contextual research and interpretation for emergent themes, as well as designing the exhibit spaces in collaboration with City of Toronto Museums and Heritage Services.

The first of many planned exhibit installations was officially opened in February 2017 with the Mayor’s Reception for Black History Month and featured stories and important artifacts focused on Black History in The Ward, including the foundation stones of the British Methodist Episcopal Church, and a rare Black doll’s head.

We are excited to announce the latest installation of the ‘Armoury Street Dig’ series of exhibits at City Hall has opened this past week. This latest installation focuses on ‘Work in the Ward,’ showing that with the rapid industrialization of the late 19th century, manufacturing moved from homes to factories. In The Ward, this industrial and social shift can be seen clearly, with factories steadily replacing houses between 1895 and 1950. The exhibit is open now and on view during regular public hours in city hall’s main floor rotunda, located adjacent to both the east and west elevator bays, and will be on display through spring of 2018.

In the west exhibit cases, artifacts from the ‘Armoury Street Dig’ highlight two 19th-century household industries that were prevalent on the site: shoemaking and tailoring. The excavation site includes one of the largest archaeological collections of 19th and early 20th-century shoes ever unearthed in Canada, most too fragile to display but documented by photographs and reproduction tools. Other artifacts on display include tools commonly used by tailors and seamstresses in the period: straight pins, buttons made of ceramic and glass, thimbles, wooden spools, and bodkins.

In the east exhibit cases, industry in factories is examined through narratives that range from small-scale family operations such as the Edward Lye and Sons Church Organ Builders which operated first out of their home, to the large-scale T. Eaton Co. Tent and Awning  Factory on Chestnut Street. On display are two moulds used in mass production: one small drawer handle mould, likely used in furniture manufacturing on the site, and a large rubber hat mould used to form men’s brimmed felt hats from the Fashion Hat & Cap Company, which occupied the former Eaton’s factory on Chestnut Street from the 1940s to the 1960s.

The exhibit is on view during regular public hours in city hall’s main floor rotunda, located adjacent to both the east and west elevator bays, and will be on display through spring of 2018.

Infrastructure Ontario is creating an online archive of past exhibit displays available at infrastructureontario.ca/armourystreetdig

Link to the Toronto Star’s coverage: https://www.thestar.com/news/immigration/2018/01/11/new-exhibit-sheds-light-on-torontos-early-immigrant-entrepreneurship.html

Related content:
http://www.eraarch.ca/2015/the-ward-a-new-book-coming-2015/
http://www.eraarch.ca/2015/the-ward-a-new-book-update/
http://www.eraarch.ca/2017/coming-up-the-ward-songs-and-sounds-of-a-lost-toronto-neighbourhood/

Post by guest writer Carl Shura.
All photos courtesy of ERA Architects and TMHC.

When Crazy Gets Creative

Crazy Dames Share their Innovative Approach to Community Engagement and Design Development

Inspired by the work of Jane Jacobs and a desire to use the artist’s studio as a site for fostering creative engagement, Jennie Suddick, and Sara Udow founded Crazy Dames. Their focus is on enhancing the user experience of urban spaces, empowering communities to drive the change they desire through ‘tactical and collaborative approaches’ to city-building. Crazy Dames utilize unconventional, yet playful methods from which innovative ideas evolve.

Their portfolio includes activities as diverse as building a blanket fort as part of a residency at the Gardiner Museum, entitled ‘We Built This City’. There they programmed events over the course of two weeks in the summer of 2016, including workshops, artist-led ‘walkshop’ walking tours, a collaborative art project, and closing event and panel discussion. The pair have also found attentive audiences through public engagement projects at the Yellowknife Artist Run Community Centre, and Create Your Path initiative.

In each case, they strive to create an experience that will bring broad communities together, break down barriers, and ignite their imaginations to ultimately express their thoughts/feelings about the city they live in, generating ideas for change. At the end of the day, it’s about talking to people, listening to divergent perspectives, and encouraging long-term community involvement and ownership.

Fast forward to August 2018, Jennie and Sara have been invited to participate in a residency in Valletta, Malta, European Capital of Culture. They have also recently been chosen as Varley Art Gallery’s inaugural Community Artists in Residence. This residency will run in 2018 in Markham, ON.

ERA was delighted to host them for an interactive presentation on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018, when they shared an informative slide presentation. Not wanting to rest solely on traditional methods however, they invited staff to get out of their seats, split into two groups and create a 3D drawing using balls of black yarn. The objective of the exercise was to define the space we were in, how it’s used and how it has evolved. The teams discussed various perspectives before creating two intricate webs. The communication and designs that resulted made for an interesting collaborative experience.

For more information visit: http://www.crazydames.com/
U of T News article: https://www.utoronto.ca/news/these-crazy-dames-want-us-rethink-way-we-engage-city

All photographs courtesy of Crazy Dames.

Nothing is Impossible: NXT City defines its strategies for city-building through an inspirational presentation at ERA

On December 13th, NXT City visited ERA to engage staff as part of our Wednesday Morning Forum ‘Spark Sessions’, a series of talks presented at ERA’s office by people and organizations who are at the forefront of their respective practices, and pushing the boundaries of design, policy and development in our city.

NXT City is a not-for-profit organization that unites the desire of emerging leaders to make a difference with city builders looking for innovative ideas to program and develop public space. It was established in 2013 by founders Christine Caruso, Mackenzie Keast and Justin Leclair, who have since garnered much attention for their exciting initiatives, such as an annual NXT City Prize, public space symposium, quarterly talks and secret warehouse parties.

In the early days, the team identified a gap in opportunities for Toronto’s current and future city-builders to assemble, in order to network, strengthen partnerships, and synergize ideas. As a result, they devised a strategy to connect various stakeholders whom they admire (Jennifer Keesmat was an early supporter), programming approachable, exciting events that draw people together to brainstorm on methods of reshaping the city in delightful, unexpected ways.

The various platforms compliment and reinforce their objective: the NXT City Prize was initiated as an opportunity to encourage and reward thought leadership on relevant topics. Teams are invited to submit proposals for jury review based solely on the quality of the idea. The NXT City Symposium promotes itself as ‘public space on a global stage’, offering up discussions on civic innovation and ideas by industry leaders challenging the boundaries and limitations of public space. The mix of speakers is a potential tension-builder, arranged as a counter-point to create a more meaningful dialogue. The NXT City Talks are small-scale panels with a ‘how to’ approach to project development. The secret warehouse parties offer an opportunity for the community at large to connect and celebrate all that is exciting and ground-breaking in the Toronto region and beyond.

To gain more insight on NXT City visit: https://nxtcity.ca/

Photos courtesy of Nicky Brunn-Meyer

The Broadview Hotel’s terracotta panels have a story to tell

Much has been spoken and written of the Broadview Hotel over the past few years. Having opened last spring, the updated landmark at the corner of Queen and Broadview has already established itself as the new go-to site for entertainment in the Riverdale neighbourhood. With all the positive attention, comes increased interest in the building’s history and the stories that continue to be revealed.

One such story can be found in the features that adorn the exterior of the Richardsonian Romanesque-style architecture, the semi-circular terracotta panels that sit atop the third-floor arched windows, and those interspersed amoungst the rich surface textures of the brick enhancements, and the moulded profiles of the arches. Twenty-one modeled reliefs provide a decorative element, featuring faces and personifications that may allude to a narrative that is not understood and could be open to interpretation.

Though the artisans are not known, the reliefs were supplied by the Toronto Pressed Brick and Terracotta Company, started in 1888 and based 2 miles west of Milton, ON. The factory was situated on a slope near the Credit River, where Medina shale was available. The main product was pressed brick. Moulded and ornamental bricks, roofing tiles and terra cotta were considered a specialty. In 1906 the company was bought by Charles Lewis. He and his brothers focused on fine terra cotta works, the only large company in Canada to do so. Many office buildings and private residences were adorned with their product, such as the 1890’s Confederation Life Building, and the Gooderham Building in Toronto.

The typical production process involved taking ground shale, kneading into a soft condition and casting it in Plaster of Paris moulds made from design drawings. The Broadview Hotel reliefs however were completed only by hand and they have a variety of textures and finishes that reveal the energy of the work and the skill of the author. Finished pieces were set to dry prior to being fired in a down-draft kiln.

The reliefs have multiple personifications of the wind, sun and moon. As companion panels these are interspersed with a series of faces; a canine, a bearded man, an Indigenous man, an owl and a boar. The collective meaning of these panels is open for interpretation.

Photography courtesy of Steven Evans

A once-popular historic Mackinac Island retreat is in the process of being restored to its former glory

ERA is highly anticipating the completion of their latest project in Michigan, Silver Birches Resort. Built between 1906-1912, it is a well-loved landmark on the remote north shore of Mackinac Island. The Lodge is a rare example of a rustic log hotel and is included on the State Register of Historic Sites.

This helped spread a uniquely North American architectural vernacular that was ideally suited to rustic summer structures.

This vernacular has been embraced and highlighted. The client’s family are heavily-invested in the region and its prosperity. Possessing a deep desire to understand the property and to restore it in a way that honoured the architecture and its surrounds, they became intimately engaged with the site during the early renovations. Mackinac Island, ‘the crown jewel of Michigan’, is regaining its lustre.

The project team have spent the last four years managing the site as design lead in support of the local architecture firm and project manager, and coordinated the work of the various consultants. The scope included the complete restoration of the site’s “Yellow Cottage”, and the extension and refinishing of its “Blue Cottage”. Also included was the preservation and restoration of the lodge’s ground floor log assembly, the rebuilding of its wrap around log veranda with code-compliant replacements, and the complete re-build of the upper two storeys to match the appearance, form and materiality of the original.

The project team includes:
Scott Weir – Principal
Brendan Stewart – Associate
Sandford Riley – Project Manager
Rui Felix – Landscape Designer

Links to related articles:
https://mynorth.com/2016/08/historic-mackinac-island-lodge-silver-birches-undergoing-renovations/
https://www.freep.com/story/travel/2016/07/09/grand-hotel-resort-hotel-mackinac/86716566/
https://savingplaces.org/stories/silver-birches-polishing-a-jewel-at-michigans-mackinac-island#.WirAvbQ-dUN

Link to related blog post:
http://www.eraarch.ca/2016/mission-point-resort/

In-House Experts: Heritage Mortars 101 & Heritage Interiors

Although there is obvious benefit to be drawn from the synergy created from ‘the whole’, we would be remiss if we did not recognize and highlight the individual expertise that makes up the sum of ERA’s parts. Staff have been treated to two presentations recently that featured their peers introducing topics for which they possess expertise through weekly ongoing information session series.

First up, ERA Associate Jessie Grebenc gave a talk on ‘Heritage Mortars 101’ as part of the Wednesday Design Forum series. The presentation led in with the philosophical decision-making process required to conserve a building. More thoroughly, it defined mortar, its components, uses and evolution, how to determine its age based on set analytical criteria and the related issues/challenges that arise under various circumstances (such as Canadian vs. European material, manufacturing and climactic contexts). The presentation was intended to give staff a solid foundation on the topic, discuss best practices from the North American and British contexts, and review the options available given the multiple factors surrounding the project.

ERA Associate Jan Kubanek and Project Manager Sydney Martin presented on the topic of ‘Heritage Interiors’, highlighting the project work completed to date on the Government Conference Centre (GCC) in Ottawa and a review of the topics presented at the Architectural Paint Research Conference in New York City that they attended in the spring.

Jan provided an overview of the GCC Rehabilitation Project currently underway that is transforming the former Ottawa Union Station into an Interior Senate facility, a project on which ERA is the heritage conservation architect working with Diamond Schmitt/KWC Architects in Joint Venture. The Beaux-Arts interiors are characterized by a formal procession route taking the visitor through the Rideau Entrance Lobby, down a grand stair into the General Waiting Room, through the Ticketing Block Anteroom and into the Concourse.

Finishes include marble floors and wall paneling, imitation travertine wall finishes (a patented process involving the application of tinted plaster with a texture characteristic of travertine laid in ashlar coursing, elaborate plaster ceilings and suspended plaster ceilings in the two large spaces.  The rehabilitation project, through careful paint and material analysis, allowed the revealing of the original colour and material palette of the building that had been concealed over time.

Sydney Presented on aspects of paint technology, assessment and methodology and how they apply to ERA’s work on the GCC.  Due to the condition of the original faux travertine plaster walls (scagliola) and the extreme difficulty of using the original plaster technique for repairs it was decided to replicate the original appearance of the tinted plaster faux travertine with paint and provide a unified appearance. Her presentation focused on the development of the paint technique and colour selection for the imitation travertine surfaces that honour the original design intent. The colours for the faux travertine were derived from analysis of the original tinted plaster.  The painted technique was meticulously tested on mock surfaces and under various lighting to emulate the original faux travertine surfaces in the building.

She then shared details of her experience at the conference, including a presentation by a Painting Conservator/Consultant, and a tour of Ellis Island featuring installations by French artist JR entitled ‘Unframed’ that added a layer of heritage interpretation to the abandoned spaces as a reminder of their purpose as an entry point to America for millions of immigrants.

All photography courtesy of ERA Architects.
All historic images accredited to the Library and Archives Canada.
All renderings accredited to DSA-KWC Architects in Joint Venture.

 

Eva’s Phoenix wins a Canadian Brownfields Network (Brownie) Award and signals a transformational start to the redevelopment of the Water Works

Both the Broadview Hotel and Eva’s Phoenix were named as finalists for the REBUILD category of the 2017 Brownie Awards, a program of the Canadian Brownfields Network established to promote projects and programs arising from the brownfield community. The REBULD category in particular recognizes ‘excellence in site-specific responses to public policy initiatives that accelerate the pace of regeneration resulting from development’, promote an enhanced public realm and successfully reimagine the adaptive reuse of heritage structures that promote increased health and well-being.

Eva’s Phoenix, located at 60 Brant Street (at the corner of Richmond Street), took home top honours. ERA’s role was of heritage consultant, supporting the work of lead architect LGA Architectural Partners. The scope of work included the photographic documentation of the property; conducting background research on the history of the property and its context, sourcing archival photographs and context maps; determining the impact of the proposed development on the existing heritage fabric; and preparing the Heritage Impact Assessment report, including a Statement of Cultural Heritage Value. The project team was comprised of Michael McClelland and Sydney Martin.

The site was once home to Toronto’s Water Works building, a heritage-designated property that was the site of the St. Andrew’s market from the 1830’s until 1860, when it was destroyed by fire. After an 1873 rebuild, the activity in the market began to decline, forcing it to close in the early 1900’s. The building that stands today was built in the Art Deco-style of architecture in 1932, designed by then City Architect J.J. Woolnough. It’s location between the high-density and thriving neighbourhoods of Queen and King Street West presents an exciting opportunity to redevelop the site as a culturally-rich, inclusive and dynamic resource for the local community. ERA has been brought on board as the heritage consultant to review the heritage approach and specify and review the conservation work. The site will eventually include a new YMCA, a public food hall, affordable housing, and a residential condo development tower that sits atop the conserved heritage base. The project team consists of Michael McClelland, Andrew Pruss, Annie Pelletier, Dan Eylon, Annabel Vaughan, Miranda Brunton, Anna Pavia, Diana Roldan and Peter Pantalone.

Brownie Award details: https://canadianbrownfieldsnetwork.ca/brownfield-awards/brownies
Water Works Development details: http://urbantoronto.ca/news/2017/09/work-begins-waterworks-building-heritage-preservation

Photos courtesy of Nathan Cyprys.

‘Big River Landscape’ wins the National Capital Commission’s Nepean Point Redevelopment design competition

Team Rosenberg’s design concept – ‘Big River Landscape’ – has been selected as the winner of a prestigious international design competition that proposes the redevelopment of Nepean Point into an enhanced public park and major destination at the heart of the Capital. The design team is made up of Janet Rosenberg & Studio Inc. with Patkau Architects, Blackwell Structural Engineers, and ERA Architects Inc.

On Thursday, October 5th four shortlisted proposals were presented at the National Capital Commission’s Urbanism Lab, followed by a period of public feedback through the NCC’s website. The winning scheme was announced on November 23rd, 2017.

Taking full advantage of dramatic natural topography, exposure to the elements, and a panoramic vista, ‘Big River Landscape’ envisions Nepean Point as the premier place in the Capital region to immerse the senses in the experience and drama of the Ottawa River valley, an ancient and continuing cultural landscape that is deeply associated with the layered histories that tie all peoples of Canada to this land, and which also defines our evolving identities as we shape our collective future. Envisioned as an inclusive public place, the design seeks to give a voice to various actors and histories, each one connected to Nepean Point in a meaningful way: the land, the river, First Nations, the Parliamentary and Federal landscape of the capital, artists, visitors experiencing the site, and all Canadians.

‘Big River Landscape’ envisions a significant new public destination, contributing to the restoration of the sense of the river as the heart of the National Capital Region within the collective imagination of Canadians. It also proposes important new connections to surrounding open spaces and federal institutions, including the National Gallery of Canada, and Major’s Hill Park.

ERA is thrilled at the chance to continue to collaborate on this important new public space for all peoples.

ERA’s team includes: Michael McClelland, Victoria Angel and Brendan Stewart, and as a sub to ERA: Lisa Prosper Heritage Consultant.

More from theNational Capital Commission on the ‘Big River Landscape’ scheme: http://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/our-projects/nepean-point-redevelopment/big-river-landscape

NCC website announcement: http://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/our-projects/nepean-point-redevelopment

Youtube Video of the NCC Public Board of Directors Meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV_Th_HDRcE – t=01h52m32s

Ottawa Citizen article: http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/nepean-point-winner-announced-milestone-meeting-on-lebreton-flats-expected-january

CBC Coverage: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/nepean-point-redesign-big-river-landscape-redevelopment-1.4415946

Ottawa Start post: https://ottawastart.com/ncc-reveals-proposed-redesign-for-nepean-point/

Renderings courtesy of The Flat Side of Design

Congratulations to Ya’el Santopinto, our new Associate 

As ERA continues to grow and evolve, the Executives and Associates are very pleased to appoint Ya’el Santopinto to our leadership team. Ya’el has demonstrated commitment to our core values of city building, rehabilitation of heritage buildings, and democratic community design, and has used these values to help the firm expand into new areas.

Ya’el is a registered Architect at ERA who specializes in affordable and energy-efficient housing, international housing policy and regulation, and the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings. Ya’el is also the Director of Research and Partnerships with the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal, leading work on Tower Renewal — an initiative to catalyze reinvestment and community building in apartment tower neighbourhoods. Her work includes research, advocacy, and implementation of best-in-class practices in energy retrofit, affordable housing and planning policy, green financing, and social inclusion.

We look forward to this new chapter and the exciting work ahead!

One Spadina Crescent: When All is Finally Revealed…….

ERA has been eagerly anticipating the official opening of One Spadina Crescent, the University of Toronto’s new home for the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. Our collaboration with NADAAA and Adamson Associate Architects has seen the transformation of the historical landmark that is Knox College, conserved and updated with a beautiful new addition. The history, relevance and inspiring new context of the building is captured in an insightful piece in the Globe and Mail by Dave LeBlanc, including a few words from Michael McClelland (see link below).

The site was originally designed as a garden feature for the Baldwin family, who owned the Spadina park lot that extended from Queen Street West to Bloor. In the 1870s, the Presbyterian Church bought the land and commissioned architects James Smith & John Gemmell to build Knox College. Having been adapted over the years to a number of different uses, the structure survives today as a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture, with a heritage designation (designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act on March 17, 1976).

Beginning in 2006, ERA worked with the University of Toronto and advised on heritage issues related to the site’s re-development. Since 2011 ERA has been working closely with prime architects, NADAAA, on the project. Phase 1 included the conservation of the exterior, and Phase II, the new addition extending from the historic building.

As heritage consultant, ERA prepared the Heritage Impact Assessment, Conservation Strategy and Conservation Plan, and provision of heritage architecture services related to the conservation scope of work (exterior and interior) throughout all phases of the project. The project team includes: Michael McClelland, Andrew Pruss, Julie Tyndorf, Alana Young, and Tatum Taylor.

The article reintroduces the heritage building to the public mindset, reinforcing its position as a work of prominent architecture in its own right, as well as a new asset in Toronto’s evolving cultural landscape.

Link to Globe and Mail article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/toronto/an-overlooked-university-of-toronto-gem-brought-back-to-thespotlight/article36984536/

All photos courtesy of John Horner Photography

ACO NextGen presents the possibility of a new take on an historic building

How does one breathe new life into a building that was once grand but has since ‘lost its lustre’?

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario NextGen designers have put out a public call for ideas that will transform Toronto’s landmark bus terminal on Bay Street, culminating in an all-day on-site event on Saturday, November 11th.

The building was designed by architect Charles B. Dolphin, widely known for designing the Consumers Gas building (at 2532 Yonge St. Building), 1931; the Postal Delivery Building, now forming part of the Air Canada Centre (at 50 Bay St), 1941; and TTC Headquarters (1900 Yonge St), 1958. The architectural style is a classic example of Art Deco/Art Moderne, containing notable interior elements for the period, such as Scagliola plaster, streamline staircase, layout and prominent central skylight.

It opened to the public in 1931 for the purposes of serving the customers of the Gray Coach bus line (in operation from 1927-1991). Service providers changed hands after many years of operation. The terminal underwent one major renovation in 1984 to alter the bus bays and a second minor renovation in 1990 to increase the seating capacity of the passenger room. The terminal may potentially be declared surplus, with the development of new bus terminal at 45 Bay Street.

ERA’s Tatum Taylor toured the group through the building and The Ward to provide context for the day. ERA Principal Scott Weir delivered a talk on the building’s architecture and history, followed by an introduction to examples of adaptive reuse projects, such as Loblaws Warehouse, Postal Station K, Massey Tower, Maple Leaf Gardens, Casey House and the Carlu. The event is timely, as talks have been underway at the municipal government level for months, to determine the future of the site. Change is in the air, and possibilities for conserving the building as a landmark destination for both heritage architectural lovers and community dwellers alike abound.

As Scott is quoted as saying, ‘Now is the perfect time to start dreaming….’

Link to Toronto Star article: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/11/09/bay-dundas-bus-terminal-looks-to-recapture-its-sense-of-grandeur.html

Link to NOW magazine article: https://nowtoronto.com/news/toronto-coach-terminal-could-use-some-inspired-ideas/

Photo of original Bus Coach Terminal interior courtesy of City of Toronto Archives.
Photos of current Bus Coach Terminal interior and ACO tour courtesy of ERA Architects.

The RAC Zone is recognized with an Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) Award for Excellence in Planning

The Tower Renewal RAC Zone, a partnership between ERA Architects, the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal, United Way Toronto & York Region, Toronto Public Health and the City of Toronto, has this week been honoured with an OPPI Award of Excellence.

Through research, advocacy, and collaboration, this new zoning framework has been developed and is poised for implementation in hundreds of Toronto’s vertical neighbourhoods, that will remove barriers for a range of exciting small-scale businesses and community services. A City-wide zoning change of this type is a first for Toronto, and would not have been possible without this diverse group of collaborators and stakeholders working together. It is a testament to what is possible through collaboration, and perhaps the start of new way for social agencies, local communities, architects, and the City to work together towards a brighter Toronto.

The OPPI Award for Excellence in Planning – Municipal Statutory Planning Studies, Reports and Documents award ‘recognizes excellence in all aspects of the profession and the high caliber of work by professional planners within communities across the province’, as stated by their Director of Public Affairs, Loretta Ryan.

To learn more about the RAC zone, visit www.raczone.ca and www.towerrenewal.com

Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) award details: http://ontarioplanners.ca/Knowledge-Centre/Excellence-in-Planning-Awards

A hospital with heart that embraces its patients celebrates its grand reopening

Dignitaries from the city and province flocked to the grounds surrounding Casey House on a beautiful autumn morning to celebrate the reopening of Canada’s only stand-alone hospital dedicated to those living with HIV/AIDS.

Founded by a group of volunteers in 1988, Casey House was Canada’s first stand-alone treatment facility for people with HIV/AIDS, and the first freestanding hospice in Ontario. At that time, many people were dying alone, cut off from the support of family and friends because of stigma and misplaced fear. The founders’ wise response was to create a home environment in which people with HIV/AIDS could be cared for with dignity and compassion. They created new approaches to palliative care, and played a leading role in both end-of-life care and HIV/AIDS care.

Fast forward almost 30 years, Casey House has been conserved and updated as a warm and welcoming environment; a brand-new state-of-the-art AIDS/HIV healthcare facility that integrates the historic house with a new four-storey extension designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects. The 58,000 ft² addition and restoration of the heritage building commenced in Spring 2015.

As heritage architects, ERA prepared a Master Plan for the property and oversaw the rehabilitation of all exterior and interior heritage fabric. The conservation strategy was to retain and conserve the fabric, replacing deteriorated elements where necessary.

The design of the contemporary facility juxtaposed against the Victorian mansion is distinct but complementary; respecting the existing materiality, preserving its qualities and organizing the day-to-day user experience. Throughout the project, the architects considered how to manifest unifying themes from the AIDS movement such as ‘embrace’ and ‘quilt’ by working the design concept from the inside out.

At its heart, the redevelopment of Casey House was a community-inspired and driven initiative, with stakeholders recognizing the importance of their generous contributions.

Link to Globe and mail article: https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/architecture/torontos-new-casey-house-building-shows-the-medicinal-power-of-light-beauty-anddignity/article36767563/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

Photos by ERA Architects

Diverse Recognition for ERA for Achievement in the Realms of Architectural Conservancy and Urban Design

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario hosted its annual awards dinner on Friday, October 23rd at Osgoode Hall. The event presents opportunities to celebrate notable provincial people, projects and initiatives related to the field of built heritage conservation.

ERA is thrilled to share that Edwin Rowse was honoured this year with the Eric Arthur Lifetime Achievement Award. Edwin has specialized in the field of heritage architecture for more than 35 years, and has been in partnership with Michael McClelland since 1990 as a co-founding principal of ERA Architects Inc. A specialist in building and environmental assessment and restoration, his work has encouraged renewed interest in historical forms and techniques and has served the restoration, adaptive reuse and preservation of many heritage buildings including the Government Conference Centre (Ottawa), the Union Station Train Shed Enhancement (Toronto), the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (Ottawa), the archives of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, the East Enlisted Mens’ Barracks on the CNE Grounds (Toronto), and Tafelmusik/St. Paul’s Church (Toronto). Edwin is widely respected for his broad depth of knowledge in conservation science, his commitment to fairness and respect, and his generosity as a mentor.

The firm is also pleased to announce another award win for the Broadview Hotel, the Paul Oberman Award for Adaptive Reuse (corporate).  Its revitalization is the most visible manifestation of the area’s transformation from its ‘rough around the edges’ recent past into a lively destination. Completed in 1892, the Broadview Hotel was built in the Romanesque Revival style of architecture, with ornate exterior terracotta panels, decorative arches, and classical columns.

The conservation strategy for the site focused on rehabilitation and restoration, in order to maintain the key architectural features of the building while constructing an addition, ensuring it housed street level commercial uses and remained open to the public. Standards were followed as the guideline for the work, and historic photographic evidence was consulted to inform the restoration. The hotel’s conservation and adaptive reuse demonstrate the collaborative commitment of ERA Architects and Streetcar Developments to create culturally rich and livable communities in the downtown core. Congratulations to the ERA project team: Michael McClelland, Andrew Pruss, Annabel Vaughan, Annie Pelletier and Jasmine Frolick.

Lastly, we wanted to give a shout out to the project team behind the rejuvenation of the National Arts Centre (NAC) at 1 Elgin Street in Ottawa, a project which sees the building transformed and expanded to engage with the surrounding streetscape, enhancing the visibility and accessibility of the main entrance. ERA served as Heritage Conservation Advisor for Diamond Schmitt Architects on the project. Our role was to provide advice in regards to heritage and conservation issues and to assist in the development of a conservation approach for the proposed rehabilitation and interventions. Project team members include: Michael McClelland, Edwin Rowse, and Victoria Angel.

For more information on the ACO Award wins: http://www.arconserv.ca/news_events/show.cfm?id=458

For more information on the Ottawa Urban Design Award Winners: https://ottawa.ca/en/business/planning-and-development/urban-design-awards

New Vision Church Preaches to the Converted as ‘The Music Hall’ (with new video link)

Hamilton’s newest live music venue is ready to showcase talent from across the region and beyond. New Vision United Church, the 150-year-old building located at 24 Main St West, formerly known as Centenary Church, is in the process of being transformed to comply with music industry standards while retaining its primary function as a place of worship. In a creative bid to better serve and engage with the wider community, the church congregation is opening their doors to the music industry and its patrons, providing new context to the site as a 1,000-seat live performance venue, ‘The Music Hall’.

The church has already played host to several high-profile entertainment events, such as a ‘Welcome to Hamilton’ benefit concert to raise money for newcomer/refugee youth as a part of Hamilton’s Supercrawl festival, headlined by The National, with performances by Kevin Drew, Hayden, JUNO Fest 2015, with musical guests including Joel Plaskett, Jenn Grant, and Mo Kenney, and a folk-rock performance by musician Terra Lightfoot. There is also an upcoming concert on November 18th with acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Daniel Lanois, with tickets available for sale online now.

The church will be seeking a heritage designation, which will describe the cultural heritage value of the building and guide its renovation work. ERA is working in an architectural consultancy capacity to meet critical building code requirements for fire-rating and washrooms. The next phase of work will include a ticket booth, upgraded seating and acoustics, and a renovated entrance lobby. To garner a sense of the needs of the patrons and discuss what other uses could compliment the building as a concert venue, the firm is attending the New Vision open house on Thursday, October 26th from 5:00 – 7:00pm. The event is free to attend and all members of the public are welcome to attend. Please come with your ideas for transformation!

The schedule for the evening:

5:00pm – Doors open
5:15pm – Welcome and prayer offering, organ fanfare and showcase by Shawn Grenke
5:25pm – Greetings from City Econ. Dev. Director Glen Norton and Ward Councilor Jason Farr
5:45pm – Violin performance by Lance Ouellette
6:15pm – Hamilton Community Choir performance
6:40pm – Words from music industry spokesperson
6:45pm – Performance by Steve Strongman
7:00pm – Wrap-up

Check out Rev. Ian Sloan’s interview with host Doug Farraway on Cable 14’s City Matters: https://cable14now.com/video-on-demand/video/?videoId=2287

Capitalizing on Heritage / Awarding Conservation: Materials, Craftsmanship and Construction

Ottawa played host to a fulsome heritage conference last week, from Tuesday, October 10th to Saturday, October 14th. The annual event was presented by The Association for Preservation Technology International (APT), National Trust for Canada and Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP). The conference was an opportunity for the partners to showcase their content in an historic capital city during a year that has seen countless celebrations marking Canada’s 150th birthday.

ERA staff were well-represented amidst the industry attendees and in a celebratory mood, as several firm projects were acknowledged through one of the showcase events on the Friday evening, the National Trust & CAHP Awards Ceremony & Reception at St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts.

The 2017 CAHP Awards acknowledged the work of ERA Associate Daniel Lewis, along with Barkley Hunt of Hunt Heritage Masonry with the Award of Excellence for Conservation: Materials, Craftsmanship and Construction for the tuckpointing of 62 – 64 Charles Street, a traditional and specialized technique used to enhance the appearance of heritage masonry. ERA Principal Scott Weir and Associate Jessie Grebenc were also tapped for their contribution, along with contractor Clifford Restoration Ltd. for the Award of Merit for Conservation: Materials, Craftsmanship and Construction for the conservation of the William Johnson House as part of the new facilities for Casey House, a collaborative project with Hariri Pontarini.

Lastly, ERA Principals Michael McClelland and Edwin Rowse, along with Project Manager/Architect Sydney Martin are proud to have been a part of the award-winning team for the National Trust for Canada Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award of Excellence in Adaptive Use/Rehabilitation for the heritage conservation of Eva’s Phoenix, in a supporting role for LGA Architects. The building is a new facility that is transforming the lives of Toronto’s homeless youth in the west-end of the city.

Conference website: http://www.apti.org/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=2017conference&category=2017 Annual Conference

Tower Renewal Action Forum

Canada faces a growing housing affordability crisis. Now is the time for coordinated action to build a future around more complete, resilient, and affordable cities – and Tower Renewal is a strategy for realizing this change.

Postwar apartment towers are the backbone of Canada’s purpose-built rental stock, and provide affordable housing to millions of Canadians. On October 5th, 2017, international experts and local city-builders came together to explore innovative strategies for transitioning these aging apartment tower neighbourhoods to meet the demands of our 21st century cities.

The Tower Renewal Action Forum showcased exemplary practices at home and abroad, focused on housing transformation, neighbourhood resilience, and the maintenance of affordability in our apartment tower neighbourhoods.

The Tower Renewal Action Forum took place on Thursday, October 5th at the Evergreen Brick Works. For more information, including the event speakers and program, please visit: http://towerrenewal.com/initiatives/tower-renewal-action-forum-2017/

To learn more about the Tower Renewal Partnership, please visit: http://towerrenewal.com/about-us/

 

Letters to the Mayor: An outlet for expressions on city-building set amidst a developmental blank canvas

PARTISANS and Storefront for Art and Architecture present ‘Letters to the Mayor’ during the EDIT Festival, which challenges visitors to consider how we can make the world a better place. EDIT also brings life back to the abandoned Unilever Detergent factory in Toronto’s Port Lands, a 150,000sqft abandoned factory set on 60-acres of brownfield. This area will be reimagined as ‘East Harbour’ in the coming years, branded as Toronto’s newest commercial and cultural district.

The ‘Letters to the Mayor’ exhibit is presented as an international letter-writing campaign from architects to their local public officials and/or developers, installed and presented for public consideration of architects as inspired city-builders. It presents a range of communications, from formal written statements to graphic representations of design problems. ERA’s founding principal, Michael McClelland responded to an invitation to participate with a focus on heritage conservation as an evolving practice that should prioritize design over decree, form over formula; shifting the emphasis to site-specific, use-oriented design.

Produced by Design Exchange, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, this inaugural EDIT festival examines the theme of “Prosperity For All” through an array of curated pavilions, talks, and installations. It runs for 11 days, from September 28 – October 8, 2017.

For more information on ‘Letters to the Mayor’ visit the exhibition website: http://editdx.org/exhibition/installations/insta-letters-to-the-mayorletters-to-the-developer-partisans

Paul Karakusevic on A New Era of Social Housing

ERA Architects, the Centre for Urban Growth + Renewal and the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design are pleased to present architect Paul Karakusevic of Karakusevic Carson Architects at the University of Toronto. Please join us Monday October 2nd for Paul’s lecture A New Era of Public Housing, focusing on more than a decade redefining social housing in the UK.

Paul’s recently published book and exhibition titled ‘ Social Housing: Definitions and Designs Exemplars’,  features 24 case studies across Europe from the new generation of architecture and design firms that are responding to the many issues dominant in social housing: high demand, changing clients, new funding methods, addressing how homes are delivered at scale, achieving high standards of design and with a new focus on city making.

Paul states:

This is an exciting time for public sector led housing across Europe. There are great things being done by local authorities and community groups in the UK and they are building with a confidence and a design ambition we haven’t seen since the late 1970s.

‘Social Housing: Definitions and Design Exemplars’ is available now from RIBA Bookshops, or can be found here.

‘Since Now, From Then’: Nuit Blanche Toronto 2017 at The Broadview Hotel

As Toronto’s east end and Riverside neighborhood enter a new phase, there is an opportunity to reflect on the social, political, cultural, and physical context while celebrating visions of the future. At Independent Project 77 of Nuit Blanche 2017, a collection of performances, projections, sculptures and installations along Broadview Avenue and Queen Street East will merge art and architecture, technology and nature, as well as public and private spaces to highlight the present, cause us to reflect on the past, and invite us to look to the future of Toronto’s changing east end.

Continue reading…

Toronto Urban Design Award Winners

The Toronto Urban Design Awards (TUDA) acknowledges and celebrates Toronto’s built environment, striving to “identify projects that are unequivocally public.” Winning projects were announced on September 13th during a private reception at the Palais Royale. ERA would like to congratulate the teams who contributed to 5 award-winning projects:

  • Broadview Hotel, Award of Excellence – Private Buildings in Context – Mid-rise
  • West Donlands Public Realm, Award of Excellence – Large Places and/or Neighbourhood Designs
  • 619 Queen West, Award of Merit – Private Buildings in Low-Scale
  • Urban Infill in the Village of Yorkville, Award of Merit – Private Buildings in Low-Scale
  • Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, Award of Merit – Large Places and/or Neighbourhood Designs

For more information on the projects please visit the site here.

The Life-Sized City focuses a lens on Toronto’s urban landscape, celebrating the heroes who are making the city more livable

Host Mikael Colville-Andersen covers feel-good stories from local community-driven initiatives to government-funded transit and harbour front enhancement projects. The city is promoted as diverse, personable and multi-faceted. This collection of stories is what defines Toronto as a livable city, one whose population growth continues to outpace all others in North America.

At the 28.20-minute mark ERA Principal Graeme Stewart introduces the Tower Renewal Project as an important endeavour to increase the viability of Toronto’s post war tower neighbourhoods.

For more information on the Tower Renewal Partnership and its work, please visit: http://towerrenewal.com/