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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.
Award Images courtesy of 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.

 

ERA Principal Scott Weir Walks Designer Tommy Smythe Through a Few Current Conservation Projects

Scott Weir was invited to tour designer Tommy Smythe of The Marilyn Denis Show through some of ERA’s current conservation projects.

The first project shown is the conservation of houses at 62-64 Charles St (project team: Andrew Pruss, Daniel Lewis and Julie Tyndorf) which is being undertaken in collaboration with aA, for Cresford Developments. Hunt Heritage is the heritage contractor.

The second is the moving and repair of 76 Howard as part of the long-term heritage conservation of a neighbourhood bounded by Sherbourne, Howard, Parliament and Bloor (project team: Daniel Lewis, Jeff Hayes, Nicky Bruun-Meyer, Gill Haley and Scott Weir) with aA for Lanterra Developments. Hunt Heritage is the heritage contractor. Video of the building move by David Dworkind.

Link to related blog post:  http://www.eraarch.ca/2016/76-howard-streets-moving-day/

The third project is the adaptive reuse and incorporation of a Jarvis Street mansion into Casey House (project team: Luke Denison, Mikael Sydor, Sanford Riley, Jessie Grebenc, Michael McClelland, Edwin Rowse and Scott Weir) for Casey House Toronto, with Hariri Pontarini Architects Clifford Masonry Ltd is the heritage contractor.

Thanks to the Marillyn Dennis show, and Tommy Smythe and his team for profiling heritage work happening in the city!

Link to segment: http://www.marilyn.ca/…/s…/Daily/May2017/05_04_2017/Segment3

These projects will be featured in greater depth on the ERA portfolio page of the website in the weeks to come.

Start Small: Placemaking & Cultural Economies

In collaboration with small, ERA is proud to present Start Small: Placemaking & Cultural Economies a talk with Halifax-area cultural economic drivers moderated by Philip Evans, Founder of small and Principal at ERA Architects.

Join us for this free, public event taking place from 6-7pm, on May 24th at Arts Bar + Projects at 1873 Granville Street, Halifax. 

Across Canada, communities are shaped by their unique cultural landscapes. Small-scale, place-based businesses and organizations are essential to this culture, and to the evolution and adaptation of these communities. small is an organization that works to support this evolution by bringing together cultural economic drivers; ­those visionary entrepreneurs, organizers and agitators who leverage the unique place-based cultural assets in their communities to build social, cultural and economic strength. From Inuvik to Bonavista, we’re hosting a series of events to talk about their careers, challenges, and the tools needed to succeed.

To kick-off ICOMOS Canada’s annual conference ‘Connection to Place’, we’re in Halifax asking:
How do we tell the stories of our communities?
What is the role of local cultural economies in these stories?
How do we support these cultural economies?

Come chat with us! The event is free and there will be a cash bar. Please register here: https://startsmallplacemaking.eventbrite.ca

It’s Symposium Season!

The arrival of spring heralds opportunities to get out and enjoy engaging discourse on topics near and dear to the hearts of heritage conservationists. As a result, ERA has been branching out and sharing our knowledge with audiences in Toronto and Ottawa over the past weekend, participating in two exciting initiatives.

First up, the Toronto branch of the Architecture Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) presented ‘150+’ at the Ontario Science Centre on Saturday. A distinguished roster of speakers presented topics that centered on two architectural periods that helped shape today’s Canadian identity. The morning session focused on the Confederation Era, was moderated by Catherine Nasmith and featured: Michael McClelland, Madeleine McDowell, Sharon Vattay, Carolyn King. The afternoon session focused on the Centennial Era, was moderated by Alex Bozikovic and featured: Eberhard Zeidler, Michael McClelland, David Leonard and Marco Polo.

For his part, Michael McClelland’s first presentation topic was on the exhibition ‘Found Toronto’, one of ERA’s first large-scale public displays. It was presented as part of the ‘Building On History’ exhibit at Harbourfront Centre in 2009. The second presentation, titled ‘Everyday Modern Architecture’ featured a portfolio of modernist buildings that inhabit Toronto’s various environs. He invited ideas on how we can apply heritage principles to buildings that are incorporated in to the historical fabric of the city.

Secondly, Carleton University’s School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies hosted a Heritage Conservation Symposium entitled ‘Dynamic + Mitigating Landscapes: Re-visioning Heritage Conservation. ERA Associate, Lindsay Reid presented ‘Location, Location, (Re)location? Moving Heritage Resources in the Age of Ecological Bias’. She traced the history of building relocation and looked to provincial examples to better understand how attitudes and policies have changed over time, and what factors were taken into decisions to move buildings.

All archival images sourced from the City of Toronto Archives.

Temporary, but Impactful: Michael McClelland Discusses New Creative Project Initiatives at The Drake Hotel

NXT City and Pavilion Project are teaming up to present ‘Short Term, Lasting Impact’, a panel discussion about the value of temporary projects at The Drake Hotel Underground.

The event takes place on the evening of March 23rd, and features STACKT founder Matt Rubinoff, Layne Hinton + Rui Pimenta from in/future and Michael McClelland from ERA Architects + the Portlands Project.

Be part of the conversation animating Toronto’s public spaces!

ERA Learns the Fine Art of Tuckpointing from a Melbourne-based Master

On March 15th 20 staff from ERA and members of the Architecture Conservancy of Ontario’s Next Gen group joined Antoni Pijaca, a heritage mason with over 30 years of award-winning tuckpointing experience for a workshop focusing on techniques and skills of the trade. English Tuckpointing is a brick-laying method used on homes, churches, schools and institutions. Materials required included lime mortar, lime putty, a straightedge, tuck irons and frenchman (ribbon knives).

This technique was popular in Toronto’s late 1800’s architecture as a cosmetic solution that imitated the gauged brickwork found in England during the same period. It was an efficient and effective means of capturing the same appearance, but requiring less work and precision.

After the introduction, staff participated in a ‘hands on’ session, demonstrating their new found knowledge.

ERA wishes to thank Hunt Heritage for providing this unique learning opportunity.

Sabina Ali & Graeme Stewart Speak to ‘Modern Tower Blocks and the 21st Century City’

Harlyn Thompson Lecture Series – Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba
Thursday, March 16, 2017
6PM Lecture
Eckhardt Gramatte Hall
University of Winnipeg

Speakers:
Sabina Ali – Chair, Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee
Graeme Stewart – Principal, ERA Architects, Co-Founder/Board Member, Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R) and Co-Editor, Concrete Toronto: A Guidebook to Concrete Architecture from the Fifties to the Seventies

Graeme Stewart and Sabina Ali will introduce the case of Toronto’s built legacy: upwards of 2,000 modernist tower blocks that define its urban landscape. Hidden in plain sight on the political radar for decades, they have experienced an extended period of neglect, however a season of change has recently emerged.

‘Tower Renewal’ sprang forth as a resolution to engage policy-makers and members of the public through research, development and calls-to-action. It shone a light on the under-estimation of the importance of these towers as vast, vertical communities whose social and structural preservation are imperative in meeting the challenges of the city’s demand for greater density and enhanced quality of life amid dwindling resources.

Toronto’s Tower block urbanism is ubiquitous, complex and contentious in nature for its physical and cultural landscape. Conservation solutions refuse to be pigeonholed, requiring a multifaceted and customized approach. The Tower Renewal initiative is nimble and dynamic in approach, successfully and sensitively addressing each project as separate and unique.

Promotional poster

Photo credit: Chloë Ellingson