ERA Architects

RAC Zoning Approved for 500 Sites

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This June, Toronto City Council approved the proposed Residential Apartment Commercial (RAC) zone. Following a process of nearly two years of research, public consultation, policy development, and advocacy in partnership with United Way, City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health, the RAC zoning will take effect by summer’s end, (barring appeal), in nearly 500 Apartment properties that form dozens of Apartment Neighbourhoods across the city.

The new zoning by-law provides a new and flexible land-use framework for Apartment Neighbourhoods. The goal of this new framework is to enable healthy, complete, and vibrant neighbourhoods better able to respond to local needs and opportunities. The goal is addressed primarily by allowing for a full range of uses within these neighbourhoods: commercial activity, social activity, and community services – amenities that most areas of Toronto take for granted. Continue reading…

1960s Canada: An interview with Vincent Massey Tovell

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Massey College Common Room, Ron Thom

Vincent Massey Tovell passed away in May 2014. He was a talented broadcaster, a remarkable thinker, and a tireless supporter of the arts. In 2006, for the publication Concrete Toronto, ERA conducted an interview with Mr. Tovell on the subject of the modernist architecture of Toronto and the nation. Below we re-present this interview as a modest reminder of his contribution to our understanding of culture and the built environment in Canada. Continue reading…

Michael McClelland at the Getty: Toronto Towers

Michael McClelland speaks

Michael McClelland speaks

Michael McClelland spoke in 2013 to the Getty Conservation Institute’s “Colloquium to Advance the Practice of Conserving Modern Architecture.” The presentation discussed Toronto’s unique development of tower neighbourhoods in the context of modernist planning principles and modern heritage conservation. ERA advocates for an approach to the conservation of these neighbourhoods through a considered process of ‘Tower Renewal’ that understands not just the design value of the modernist buildings themselves, but also the context of the neighbourhoods they support and the progressive ideas they represent.

You can see a video of Michael’s presentation at the Getty Institute, or read an approximate transcript below: Continue reading…

Jane Jacobs Prize to Graeme Stewart & Sabina Ali

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The 2014 Jane Jacobs Prize has been awarded to Graeme Stewart of ERA and Sabina Ali of the Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee.

According to the creators of the Jane Jacobs Prize, Ideas that Matter, this honour “celebrates individuals who contribute to the fabric of Toronto life in unique ways that exemplify the ideas of Jane Jacobs. The prize recipients reflect the diverse aspects of city life.” Continue reading…

New opportunities through zoning reform: Your feedback needed

Apartment towers and highway, night

Photo: Jesse Colin Jackson

The City of Toronto wants to bring more vitality and convenience to its Apartment Neighbourhoods. In March and April, a number of public consultations will be held to incorporate the ideas of community members.

A new zoning type, “Residential Apartment Commercial” (RAC), has been created to provide more amenities and more usable public space in selected neighbourhoods.

Continue reading…

Botwood build: complete

As part of the Culture of Outports initiative, Andrew Pruss, Alana Young, Jordan Molnar, and Shelley Ludman recently collaborated with six Ryerson architecture students and residents of Botwood, Nfld. to design and build an intervention in the local landscape.

The “Viewfinder” is a wood-frame, open-plank pavilion that serves as a shade structure, windbreak, and a frame for significant heritage views of the locale. It is intended as a focal point for community engagement, a landmark to stimulate activity in the community, and a steppingstone toward the cultivation of future cultural and economic opportunities. Continue reading…

Light show on air field: Botwood, Nfld.

As part of the recent Culture of Outports project, our team of ERAers and Ryerson students has been collaborating with residents of Botwood Newfoundland for several days. In addition to meals, tours, history lessons, and collaborative design charrettes, the team got together to install dozens of ice candles (made by residents especially for our visit) to illuminate a strip of Botwood’s historic airfield. Continue reading…

We’re off to Botwood, Nfld.

As part of the Culture of Outports initiative, ERA’s Andrew Pruss, Alana Young, and Jordan Molnar are heading to Botwood Newfoundland from Feb. 15 to 22. Together with a group of Ryerson Architecture students, we’ll be collaborating with the community on a number of events, as well as the design and construction of an intervention in the local landscape. Continue reading…

The material library

A material library is a cataloged collection of real-world materials kept for research and reference. Often the library consists of recently released, innovative, or unusual products, but can also include more commonly used materials that are important to combine, compare, contrast etc., in their full materiality. Continue reading…

The Star’s Big Ideas: GTA’s future in high-rise suburbs

Throughout the first part of 2014, the Toronto Star is running a series called “Big Ideas“,  asking Torontonians to think big about the future of the region. What type of Toronto do we want to create in the years to come?

For our contribution to this series, we discuss Tower Renewal as the key to realizing the region’s potential. The piece can be found at Here at thestar.com, or below: Continue reading…

Charrette: Healthy Corner Stores

On Saturday January 18, The East Scarborough Storefront hosted a public design charrette with partners United Way Toronto, Toronto Public Health (TPH), Sustainable TO, Architext, and ERA. Saturday’s discussion focused on TPH’s new program “Healthy Corner Stores,” a project that proposes to give suburban communities better access to fresh produce, and other healthy food options, through convenience stores.

Healthy Corner Stores is part of the growing Tower Renewal initiative, which aims to bring new amenities, healthy choices, and life on the street to Toronto’s tower neighbourhoods. Continue reading…

Transformative potential of Tower Renewal: Globe & Mail

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Alex Bozikovic, Toronto-based writer on architecture and design, recently provided an update on Tower Renewal efforts in the GTA. The article describes the uniquely Canadian and Torontonian inventory of high-rise post-war tower apartment neighbourhoods, and recent efforts by local architects, not-for-profits, and city departments to rethink these neighbourhoods. With aging buildings in need of maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades, and zoning laws that see neighbourhoods underserved and undernourished, Toronto is ready for some practical changes.

Bozikovic is optimistic: By his estimation, the Tower Renewal project can truly transform Toronto for the better.

For the full article, which features several quotations from ERA’s Graeme Stewart, please see “Toronto hopes to revitalize its many postwar highrises” in the Globe & Mail.

Shipbuilding in NFLD: a book

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ERA’s Philip Evans and grandfather Calvin Evans are about to launch Master Shipbuilders of Newfoundland and Labrador, Vol I, a detailed account of one of maritime Canada’s oldest traditions. The book, published by Breakwater Books, will be launched at 3:30 on Sat. Sept. 14 at the St. John’s Chapters. Philip and Calvin Evans will be present for an informal discussion and Q&A. Continue reading…

Slabs vs. points

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A new article in Satellite Magazine on Toronto Towers by ERA’s Graeme Stewart, Josh Thorpe, and Michael McClelland.

The article compares Toronto’s two high-rise housing booms, which have generated housing in volume and distribution unlike anywhere else in North America: first, the suburban tower boom in Toronto’s post-war period, and next the contentious condo boom of recent years. Continue reading…

ERA BBQ, 2013

We smoked cigars, blew bubbles, told humourous anecdotes, ate, drank, chased after obstreperous children, and mopped our brows in thirty-plus weather.

On the menu this year: hara bhara kebabs (“full-of-green” kebabs), “new age” watermelon salad, and several competing varieties of gourmet potato salad. For dessert: Greek honey balls, Newfoundland blueberry puff, Trinidadian rum cake, and Persian sholeh zard, which, we are given to understand, means “sloppy yellow.”

Thanks to Sonya and Anusha for organizing, and Andrew and Tony for hosting. Until next year!

Concrete Toronto on spacing.ca

ERA is pleased to announce that this summer spacing.ca will be republishing several articles from our book, Concrete Toronto: a guidebook to concrete architecture from the fifties to the seventies.

The book, published by Coach House Books in 2007, reconsiders Toronto’s large inventory of concrete buildings and infrastructure from the perspective of a diverse group architects, city planners, academics, historians, and journalists. Continue reading…

Port Union Community Build

The Culture of Outports program has just concluded its third year of “community build” projects in Trinity Bay North, Newfoundland. The project uses planning and design thinking to bring new ideas and energy to outport communities experiencing economic and social change post-fisheries.

This year ERAers Andrew Pruss, Alana Young, Shelley Ludman, Douglas de Gannes, traveled with Ryerson students Madeleine Craig, Ryan Giuricich, Mitchell May, Elijah Sabadlan, and Karl Sarkis to the Trinity Bay North communities of Catalina, Little Catalina, Melrose, and Port Union. Continue reading…

ERA in Nfld.: Update

This week in Trinity Bay North, Newfoundland, the 2013 Culture of Outports project got a great start on its community build process. The community is fantastic and we’re having a great time.

In its first week the team has toured the local landscape and architecture extensively, held several community engagement meetings, mounted a historical slide show in the street, and installed 1000 feet of Christmas lights along Main St. to commemorate an early electrical power station built in Port Union in 1917. Continue reading…

Rapid Response at Harbourfront Centre

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Harbourfront Centre Architecture Gallery, Toronto
June 21 to Sept 7, opening June 21, 6 to 10 p.m.

The design duo known as Captains of Industry, which consists of ERAer Amy Norris and Clint Langevin of architectsAlliance, are collaborating on a project for Rapid Response, an exhibition exploring architectural responses to natural disaster. Amy and Clint describe their contribution, Postnatural Disaster below: Continue reading…

Seoul: its heritage and its future

ERA’s Sharon Hong was recently published in Transforming Asian Cities, a new book edited by Nihal Perera and Wing-Shing Tang for Routledge. According to Perera and Tang, Asian cities are too often thought of as “following global models” and “Western-dominated urban hierarchies and spatial structures.” This new publication, however, aims to provide “inside-out” interpretations of Asian urbanism. Continue reading…