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Update: RAC Zone Launch Event

On Wednesday, July 19th, leaders in the development of Toronto’s Residential Apartment Commercial (RAC) Zoning by-law gathered at York University to celebrate and explore challenges and next steps in empowering communities to utilize Toronto’s newest zone. The esteemed panel had representation from property owners, entrepreneurs, community members, academics and city builders with Graeme Stewart, Principal at ERA Architect and the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal as the Panel Moderator.

Panelists included:

  • Michael Mizzi Director, Zoning and Secretary-Treasurer Committee of Adjustment, City Planning Division at the 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 evening provided a platform for the celebration of Toronto’s new Zone as well as a discussion about the next steps in rolling out the RAC Zone on a large scale.

For coverage of the event see:

– “Changes coming to business and social services for apartment towers“, Graeme Stewart’s interview on Metro Morning

– “Towering Ambitions, article by Globe and Mail

– “Zoning changes give new life to Toronto’s ‘apartment neighborhoods’: Hume“,  article by Toronto Star

For more information on RAC zoning, visit http://www.raczone.ca

Hamilton‘s Durand Built Heritage Inventory project paper has been published by the ISPRS

In 2013, ERA worked with the City of Hamilton on updating their Downtown Built Heritage Inventory (DBHI) project that reviewed 789 properties of architectural and historical value in an effort to understand the built heritage resources within the downtown core and how they contribute to Hamilton’s character. Survey and inventory methodology was designed to apply to the remaining 6000 properties in the city’s inventory and incorporated the use of historic context statements that aide in identifying properties that contribute to the unique qualities and character of a neighbourhood. The inventory has informed funding programs, provided context for designations and educated the public.

In a continuation of this process, Hamilton City Council recently approved ERA’s recommendations for the Durand Neighbourhood Inventory. The Durand neighbourhood is one of four original neighbourhoods included in the City’s 1833 incorporation, known for the depth and diversity of its population and heritage architecture. The innovation at the root of the project is a database the firm developed to sit at the core of all processes – it stores and links all key inventory information in the cloud, making it accessible throughout the project. Its capabilities facilitated survey work in the field using a tablet, data crunching in the office, and the production of rich visuals that helped describe our findings.

Using our database, the collected historical and survey information integrated seamlessly with a geographic information system (GIS) dataset in order to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and present spatial and geographic data. The end goal of the project was to provide recommendations for protecting heritage resources and managing growth within a changing urban context. The digital workflow allowed us to efficiently and thoughtfully survey the 1000+ properties within the study area, and leverage the database to analyze themes, trends and historical evidence. The final staff report, informed by our Durand Neighbourhood Inventory, was passed by Hamilton City Council on June 14, 2017 and included the addition of 736 addresses to the City’s Heritage Register, and 52 candidates to Heritage Staff’s designation work plan.

ERA project ambassadors Victoria Angel, Mikael Sydor and Angela Garvey have written a paper on the project’s digital workflow, which they presented at the CIPA International Biennial Symposium in Ottawa this fall. The International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing has recently published their paper.

Link to Hamilton City Council recommendations: https://www.hamilton.ca/city-planning/heritage-properties/hamilton-built-heritage-inventory-process

Link to CIPA International Biennial Symposium: http://www.cipaottawa.org/

For access to the published paper, click here.

Heritage Toronto 2017 Award Nominations and Great Architectural Heritage Bus Tour

The 2017 Heritage Toronto award nominations are now listed on the organization’s website. ERA is pleased to share that the firm is represented through three projects in the following categories:

Public History Award
Howard Street House Move
Creators:
David Dworkind, Filmmaker and Timelapse
Devin Lund, Timelapse

Producers:
Rafi Younger, Lanterra Developments Ltd.
Scott Weir, ERA Architects

William Greer Architectural Conservation & Craftsmanship
The Broadview Hotel
Building owner:
Streetcar Developments

Architectural firm:
ERA Architects Inc.

Heritage contractor:
Phoenix Restoration Inc.

Hotel X – Stanley Barracks
Building owner:
Library Hotel Collection

Architectural firm:
ERA Architects Inc.

Craftspeople:
Clifford Restoration Limited

The winners will be announced during the 43rd annual awards ceremony to be held on Monday, October 23rd at The Carlu from 5:30pm onwards. Tickets are currently on sale here.

As an additional point of interest, Heritage Toronto has invited ERA‘s Andrew Pruss to assist them in delivering an exciting day of heritage building exploration through their Great Architectural Bus Tour, set to take place on September 9th from 10:00am – 3:00pm. The tour begins at 10-12 Market Street and will feature a selection of past Heritage Toronto Architectural Conservation and Craftsmanship Award recipients, including ERA projects: Don Jail, Imperial Plaza and the Distillery District.

Tickets are currently on sale here.

Kensington Market Lofts Presents a Gateway of Colour to the Neighbourhood

Kensington Market is one of the most culturally diverse neighbourhoods in Toronto, with a long history of fostering an organic, eclectic mix of sights, sounds and tastes within the context of a relatively low density, residential building stock.

Situated within this thriving cultural hub, ERA is working with Kensington Market Lofts on a long-term multi-stage revitalization of the local condominium buildings. The current project involves the rehabilitation of the building’s prominent east facade where moisture infiltration has begun to threaten the existing steel structure through penetration of the Terracotta brick façade.

The project team, in collaboration with the condo board determined that the installation of a wall-mounted public art piece would embody the rich textures and inclusivity of the neighbourhood, creating a ‘gateway’ to the cultural heritage landscape of the market while protecting the remediated underlying masonry.

Prominent Toronto artist and building resident An Te Liu developed the colour pattern of the panels with the intent of depicting an aesthetic that reflects the neighbourhood’s historic diversity. The distribution of the colours in the final pattern was drawn from an analysis of the percentage of colours present in the world’s national flags.

The significance of the approach is that the material sits comfortably within its bohemian context. It was important to pursue a strategy that did not feel out of place with the vibrant coloured awnings and shops spilling out onto the street. The project has embodied its physical location, facing one of Toronto’s most important thoroughfares, to provide a landmark that will invite people into the market at one of its primary entrances.

 While not a tower renewal project, there are several aspects that have been informative for tower renewal endeavours. This has included:

  • Detailed thinking about construction sequencing without displacing residents.
  • Instituting a best practice approach to recladding of existing assemblies that takes into account long term durability, fire protection, improved insulation, and continuity of vapour barriers.
  • Showing how an initially functional imperative can be leveraged to provide a design approach with additional meaning for the residents and the community.

To access the recent Globe and mail article on this project by David LeBlanc, click here.

 

The Broadview Hotel Opens its Doors to the Public

Since it first opened as Dingman’s Hall in 1891, the Broadview Hotel has been a landmark east of the downtown in the Riverside neighbourhood. Originally a venue for public meetings and commercial businesses, it first opened as a hotel in 1908. With the recent renewal, it has once again become a community hub for events and the hotel will host many new visitors to the area: we are pleased to announce that the building has its public opening on July 27, 2017.

Although the original architect is unknown, the building’s architecture is in the same style as Toronto’s Old City Hall, with unique and ornate exterior terracotta panels depicting animals and allegorical figures. The twenty-one individually sculpted panels are probably the most distinctive features of the building, fabricated with the same quality materials and craftsmanship that defined the city’s 19th century construction.

The repair of the historic building, and the contemporary glass addition achieve a balance that’s a welcome contribution to the evolution of this neighbourhood, and the newly created restaurants, hotel and rooftop bar and terrace reanimate this key corner site. It seems appropriate that the Broadview Hotel is at the intersection of two 24 hour streetcar lines.

The project was led by Streetcar Developments with ERA Architects, Atkins+VanGroll Engineers and Design Agency.

Link to project profile: http://www.eraarch.ca/project/the-broadview-hotel/

Link to Streetcar’s website, for more event information: https://streetcar.ca/

(photos: Marcus Mitanis)

The Lost Craft of Tuck Pointing

Pointing, repointing, tuck pointing, ribbon pointing, flush pointing, there are many techniques and they are all different. Tuck pointing is a style of jointing that was predominantly used on English brickwork from the late seventeen century and it continued in popular use through the early 20th century. Done properly, it is the most highly skilled of all pointing finishes and gives the illusion of finely pointed gauged brickwork on principal facades. It helped give the impression of quality to buildings constructed of damaged or irregular bricks. When laid in the normal manner of the day, such bricks produced walls with wide joints of irregular and uneven pattern which appear the sum of their constituent parts rather than as a coherent surface or plane. In the late 17th century the problem was avoided by using soft, rubbed bricks which could then be laid with thin, straight joints, however such work was costly. Tuck pointing was a less expensive alternative which seems to have been particularly popular for use on terraced housing up to the late 19th century. One of the most famous terraced houses in the British empire was tuck pointed: 10 Downing Street. While the technique is no longer in prominent use, knowledge of it is needed to repair those buildings which remain.

The effect is achieved by filling joints with a base mortar which has been coloured to match the surrounding brickwork. Where necessary, it covers the rounded or damaged brick edges in order to finish flush with the wall face. Over this is a narrow ribbon of fine, vernally white or cream coloured pointing material of well-sifted lime mixed with fine silica sand. This is skillfully applied or ‘tucked’ onto the regular grooved centres of the prepared joints and precisely trimmed to size.

Walking through neighbourhoods such as Cabbagetown, lower Rosedale and Parkdale, you still see the remnants of original tuck pointing on old brick buildings. This was a prominent aesthetic element throughout the city. However, it can be difficult to determine whether an historic building had been tuck pointed originally, mainly because of the sand blasting practice in recent decades.The abrasion of the sand on the surface removes paint and staining, but also often erodes the surface of the brick, mortar, and adjacent materials, including the tuck pointing ribbon if present, effectively removing any evidence of the brick building being tuck pointed.

Such a specimen can be seen at 62-64 Charles Street, 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.

Launching the RAC Zone

 

 

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

ULD London – Graeme Stewart Showcases Toronto at London institution’s 15th Anniversary event

This June ERA’s Graeme Stewart showcased Toronto at the Urban Design London 15th Anniversary event. Hosted at London City Hall, the event brought together speakers from London, Paris, New York, Toronto and Auckland, outlining advances in city building, urban design thinking and public policy as these cities grapple with the opportunities and challenges of 21st Century urbanism. The event was moderated by Esther Kurland, UDL’s director.

Speakers included:

London: Patricia Brown, Director, Central

Toronto: Graeme Stewart Principal, ERA Architects, Director, Centre for Urban Growth & Renewal

Paris: Paul Lecroart Senior Urban Planner, Paris Regional Planning Agency

Auckland: George Weeks Senior Urban Designer, Auckland Council

New York: Sky Duncan, Global Designing Cities Director, NACTO

For more information about Urban Design London, visit urbandesignlondon.com.

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.