ERA Architects

Blog

City of Toronto RAC Zone Event

 

 

Property owners, entrepreneurs, community members, academics and city builders will gather at York University in celebration of Toronto’s newest zone: the Residential Apartment Commercial (RAC) (www.raczone.ca). Moderated by Graeme Stewart, Principal of ERA and the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal, this event hosted by the City of Toronto will centre discussions on the zone’s implementation as well as its economic and social opportunities.

Topics will touch on:

  • Where does the zone apply?
  • What new things can be done there?
  • Why is this a great idea?
  • How does RAC zoning make it easier to implement sensible changes?
  • Who can benefit from these changes?

And Panelists will include:

  • Jennifer Keesmaat, Executive Director and Chief Planner City Planning, City of Toronto
  • Jason Thorne, General Manager Planning and Economic Development, City of Hamilton
  • Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health, City of Toronto
  • Doug Saunders, Author and Journalist
  • Maurine Campbell, Coordinator, 2667/2677 Kipling Avenue Tenant Association
  • Gobal Mailwaganam, Managing Director, Municipal Affairs & Housing and Operations CAPREIT

 

The RAC Zone was initiated through a long term collaboration between a group of partners including the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal, United Way Toronto & York Region, Toronto Public Health and the tower Renewal Office at the City of Toronto. Approval of the RAC zone ushers in a new era for communities within Toronto to emerge as a more healthy, resilient and vibrant places.
For more coverage on the RAC Zone, check out the CBC’s article “How a zoning bylaw could transform 500 apartment sites across the city”.
Illustrations by Daniel Rotsztain

Refreshing Allan Gardens

The Friends of Allan Gardens (FOAG) are leading efforts to ensure that this historic public garden remains relevant and integrated into its ever-evolving surrounds. ERA’s Tatum Taylor, who also sits on FOAG’s Board of Directors, has published an article in the Summer/Parks issue of Spacing Magazine that describes the process for renewal. In her words:

‘…For decades, Allan Gardens has struggled to maintain its identity and integrity within Toronto’s rapidly evolving downtown core. The diversity of its uses sets it apart within the City’s parks system, but also imposes competing demands on its aging infrastructure. The newly released Allan Gardens Refresh, produced by the Friends of Allan Gardens (FOAG) in collaboration with the City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Department, envisions a future for the park that evokes its former grandeur. In keeping with Allan Gardens’ traditions of horticulture innovation and social activism, the Refresh initiative is an inventive approach to planning, stewardship, and revitalization – shaking up the existing model of master planning for Toronto’s parks…’

To read the article in its entirety, please pick up a copy of Spacing Magazine online or at your local newsstand outlet.

To learn more about the Allan Gardens Refresh – a vision document produced by FOAG in partnership with the City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation Division – visit friendsofallangardens.ca

Allan Gardens feature image courtesy of Brent Wagler.
Workshop image curtesy of ERA Architects.
Spacing cover image courtesy of spacing magazine.

 

Towers: a comparison in evaluation, context, and conservation

Is the practice of heritage conservation limited to conventional landmark structures, or, can it have a broader application in relation to social and economic sustainability across our built fabric?

These emerging practice issues were raised by Michael McClelland during a symposium at the 2015 Association for Preservation Technology International (APT) Conference in Kansas City, and have been developed in an article authored with Alexis Cohen and Christine Paglialunga in the Journal of Architectural Conservation. 

The article explores emerging practice issues in heritage conservation through the comparison of two conservation projects in Toronto, both built in 1969: Mies van der Rohe’s Toronto Dominion (TD) Centre in the Financial District and a residential apartment tower by the Estonian-born Canadian architect, Uno Prii. It argues that by broadening both the cannon of heritage resources and approaches to conservation, heritage professionals have an opportunity to contribute solutions to global issues like climate change and social and economic inequality. If traditional distinctions between ‘highbrow’ and ‘low brow’ resources are revisited, a more expansive understanding of value can lead to better and more creative uses for our built heritage.

ERA is able to offer a limited number of free downloads of this article. If interested, please click here to obtain a copy.

 

Photo of 100 Spadina Ave. courtesy of ERA Architects.

The View from Bonavista

How do historic building practices contribute to a region’s cultural identity? What possibilities are created by the integration of new industrial, commercial, and institutional buildings into a townscape known for its heritage resources? How could a community support or encourage good quality design of new buildings? These are a few of the design challenges that residents of Bonavista, Newfoundland have provided as a starting point for this year’s Culture of Outports project.

Culture of Outports will be bringing a group of Ryerson University architectural students to Bonavista in August to tackle these challenges and work to develop solutions over the course of one week. Their sketches, designs, and models will be displayed in the Wandering Pavilion, a project spearheaded by St. John’s architect Emily Campbell. The Pavilion is a temporary structure composed of a kit of parts, which “wanders” from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, changing its function depending on the context. In Bonavista, it will serve to showcase the work of the student team, as well as the work of several local artists.

The Culture of Outports team is in Bonavista now, hosting our first community conversation and absorbing the beauty and unique cultural heritage of the town.

As in all Culture of Outports projects, we will be working with the community to understand and express the unique quality of place which fosters and sustains a livable community.

Follow us here: https://www.instagram.com/cultureofoutports/

CUG+R at Urban Design London

Cities internationally are exploring the challenges and opportunities of modern tower blocks and 21st century urban regeneration.

Next week Graeme Stewart and Ya’el Santopinto of ERA Architects and the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal will take part in a series of conversations focused on urban regeneration at Urban Design London (UDL) and Oxford University.  UDL is a non profit organization that connects design practitioners and provides up to date information about policy, research, and best practice.

They will have an opportunity to present the vision of Tower Renewal across the Province of Ontario and learn about other approaches being taken in cities around the world.

Discussions will include experts from multiple disciplines, and topics will range from estate regeneration to urban narratives as well as a reflection of the evolving approaches to public space over time.

Stay tuned for the outcomes that arise from this exciting international discussion and see how Ontario’s tower renewal experience sits alongside others.

 

Evergreen Canada Launches An Online Exhibit: Complete Communities

Evergreen Canada has launched an online gallery entitled ‘Complete Communities‘ that showcases several projects within and surrounding the GTA that provide affordable homes, fresh food, clean water, local services, green spaces and great recreation to their residents. Accessibility is made available through walking, biking and public transit.

The Ridgeway Community Court is one of these projects.

Ridgeway has a reputation in the city as being a disadvantaged neighbourhood, but residents who live in the community know Ridgeway as a great place full caring people and strong values. The space it now occupies was once a parking lot before residents rallied together to fundraise for a multi-use sports facility. The court design, and now management, has been community-led. It was an excellent opportunity for the local youth,  to enhance their skills, their drive, and their accomplishments. They worked very hard to achieve this dream, and they relish opportunities to showcase their community.

The youth know that they can¹t change the past but they can change the future. Through the ‘Complete Communities’ initiative the youth of the community have a platform to tell the GTA what it really means to call Ridgeway home.

Other Ridgeway community partners include MLSE, the City of Mississauga, the Mississauga West Rotary Club, and the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program.

Link to promotional video: https://www.evergreen.ca/completecommunities/2/8

 

Ontario Heritage Conference Panel Highlights the Success of Recent Projects

How does project planning, coordination and stakeholder engagement feed into the execution of a Lieutenant Governor Ontario Heritage Award winning architectural conservation project? ERA Principal Andrew Pruss will discuss the successes and challenges of the restoration of The Broadview Hotel project in ‘Getting It Right: The Formula for Heritage Conservation’, one of several sessions at the Ontario Heritage Conference this weekend taking place in Ottawa.

The panel discussion will be introduced by the Ontario Heritage Trust and will also feature the following speakers/projects:

Samah Othman and Mayor Hughes – African Methodist Episcopal Church (Township of Oro-Medonte)

Alexander Temporale – Harding Waterfront Estate / Holcim Centre (Mississauga)

Click here for more information on the event.

Ridgeway Community Courts Celebrates the Spirit of Collaboration with Award Win

Ridgeway Community Courts has recently been recognized by the City of Mississauga as a project that is improving the quality of life for local residents. On May 24th, 2017 ERA Architects was presented with the Community Partnership Award as acknowledgement of the inspirational partnership between the municipality and firm.

The project is the realization of a talented group of local youth, who transformed an under-utilized parking lot and sidewalk boulevard into a vibrant multi-sport court and community space for drop-in recreational programming. The youth-led management of court operations has created an opportunity for skills-building and leadership development.

ERA led the collaborative design process, which worked closely with the community to bring this much-needed resource to the Ridgeway neighbourhood of northwest Mississauga, together with the major project partners, MLSE Foundation, The Rotary Club, Erin Mills Youth Centre and the City of Mississauga. A unique partnership was created, with the project driven by ground-up advocacy. The result was a public space that is truly reflective of the community’s vision.

The award was designed by Mississauga-based artist/designer Alex Anagnostou.

Court images courtesy of MLSE and ERA Architects.

 

Albert Jackson’s Story: local students document a history of social injustice spurring a network of community partnerships

In 2013, students at Clinton Public School produced a book on Albert Jackson, the first African Canadian postal worker in Toronto. Jackson was born into slavery in Delaware and escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad only to face racial discrimination in his new home. He ultimately became the city’s first black letter carrier and was one of the few people of colour to serve as a civil servant in 19th-century Canada.

Following ERA’s collaboration on Welcome to Blackhurst Street as part of the Mirvish Village redevelopment, A Different Booklist approached ERA to help extend the life and reach of the students’ book on Jackson by supplementing the text and artwork with archival material. ERA ended up doing the graphic layout, too.

Jackson’s story is the subject of increasing recognition. In 2012, a laneway in Harbord Village was named after Jackson who owned several properties in the neighbourhood and, in 2013, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers recognized his legacy with a commemorative poster. On July 21st, Heritage Toronto will unveil a plaque in his honour.

Numerous community members and institutions generously offered information, photographs, and other support for the book. A Different Publisher and ERA would like to thank the Jackson Family, the Ontario Black History Society, Karolyn Smardz Frost, Patrick Crean, Janet Walters at Toronto’s First Post Office Museum, Chris Bateman at Heritage Toronto, Sandra Foster, Ron Fainfair, and LaShawn Murray.

The Story of Albert Jackson was recently launched at Mayworks Festival, an annual event that promotes worker rights for decent wages, healthy working conditions, and quality of life through the support of diverse artists and their creations.

ERA is proud to contribute to the dissemination of Jackson’s story through a growing network of community partnerships.

At the May 3rd book launch with Clinton Street Public School teachers Gini Dickie and Pamela Jamieson, A Different Publisher’s Managing Editor Liberty Hacala, and Itah Sadu of A Different Booklist.


Event Photography courtesy of Itah Sadu, A Different Booklist.
Book layout images courtesy of ERA Architects.

Michael McClelland on the Panel: Discussions on Art and Nature in Public Space

Art, nature and public engagement intersect throughout the city in many ways and ERA is in the thick of discussions leading to interesting, inspirational projects.

Last Saturday Michael McClelland participated in a panel featuring the local urbanite’s quest for green space and reprieve from sprawl, as depicted in the City of Toronto commissioned photographs by Robert Burley for the exhibition An Enduring Wilderness. These images celebrate Toronto’s urban wilderness as spaces of celebration and reward, entwined in a strategy for ‘maintaining and communicating their ecological and civic function’. The show was curated by Carla Garnet, is on until May 26th and open to the public at John B. Aird Gallery, 900 Bay Street as part of the Contact Photography Festival.

On Friday, May 19th Michael is sitting on a second panel as part of the public art: new ways of thinking & working symposium, at York University from May 18 – 20th. The discussion is entitled ‘Artists and City Building’, and will introduce ideas to assist artists in participating more fully in city building through a series of responses to questions touching on the nature of the word ‘public’, expectations related to such work and how to challenge contemporary art practices through commissioning processes. Recommendations will feed into OCAD University’s study on public art in Toronto.