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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/

Toronto the Good 2017

Toronto the Good is back, ushering in a new season at a new venue! It is an annual party presented by ERA Architects (and friends) to celebrate the city of Toronto, and contemplate its history and evolution with fellow architects, designers, and urban-minded people.

For this instalment of our annual party we are supporting the initiatives of the Tower Renewal Partnership, an initiative working to preserve and enhance mid-century apartment tower neighbourhoods through research, advocacy and demonstration. International experts and local city-builders will be meeting at a symposium during the day to explore innovative strategies for transitioning these aging apartment tower neighbourhoods to meet the demands of our 21st century cities. Now is the time for coordinated action to build a future around more complete, resilient, and affordable cities. Tower Renewal is a strategy for realizing this change.

We hope you will join us at the Evergreen Brick Works on October 5th, 2017, in celebration of the Tower Renewal Partnership’s accomplishments at this year’s event. Join us for hors d’ourves, cash bar, and a lively crowd of people passionate about design and civic engagement in Toronto.

Admission is free, but registration is required for entry into the party.

Join us at 5:30pm for a keynote by author and journalist Doug Saunders.

Shuttle buses will be running between Broadview Station and the Evergreen Brick Works throughout the duration of the event.

When: Thursday, October 5th, 2017, 6:00 – 10:00pm.
Where: Evergreen Brick Works

Register here through Eventbrite.

Click here for more information on the Tower Renewal Partnership and its work.

Joseph Bloor: A Celebration to Honour a Prominent City-Builder

On Thursday, August 31st from 12:00 – 1:00pm at 117 Bloor Street East, Heritage Toronto will be hosting a plaque unveiling to commemorate Joseph Bloor. His surname harkens images of the city’s main cross-town artery and the path along which half of the TTC’s Line 2 traverses. What many do not know is that Joseph Bloor was originally from Staffordshire, England. He lived from 1789–1862, immigrated to Toronto in 1819 and is credited with founding the village of Yorkville.

ERA was hired to clean, conserve and erect the plaque commissioned in his honour by members and the congregation of the Bloor Methodist Church. After assessing its condition, it was determined that the original plaque – which is trapezoidal in shape and made of white marble – would be too fragile to leave exposed to the elements over time, so a replica was made out of concrete poured into a silicon mold. It has been finished with a faux patina that matches the original stone and sealed for protection.

The replica is mounted under glass and forms part of a permanent interpretative display at St. Andrews United Church. It is supported at the top and bottom with a continuous 1/4” stainless steel bracket attached to an armature.

Due to the fragility and historic value of the original plaque, it is in permanent storage at the Toronto Heritage Artifact Archives.

For more information on the plaque unveiling and to register for the event please visit: http://heritagetoronto.org/event/josephbloorplaque_aug31/

Photo credit: ERA Architects

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.