ERA Architects

ACO NextGen presents the possibility of a new take on an historic building

How does one breathe new life into a building that was once grand but has since ‘lost its lustre’?

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario NextGen designers have put out a public call for ideas that will transform Toronto’s landmark bus terminal on Bay Street, culminating in an all-day on-site event on Saturday, November 11th.

The building was designed by architect Charles B. Dolphin, widely known for designing the Consumers Gas building (at 2532 Yonge St. Building), 1931; the Postal Delivery Building, now forming part of the Air Canada Centre (at 50 Bay St), 1941; and TTC Headquarters (1900 Yonge St), 1958. The architectural style is a classic example of Art Deco/Art Moderne, containing notable interior elements for the period, such as Scagliola plaster, streamline staircase, layout and prominent central skylight.

It opened to the public in 1931 for the purposes of serving the customers of the Gray Coach bus line (in operation from 1927-1991). Service providers changed hands after many years of operation. The terminal underwent one major renovation in 1984 to alter the bus bays and a second minor renovation in 1990 to increase the seating capacity of the passenger room. The terminal may potentially be declared surplus, with the development of new bus terminal at 45 Bay Street.

ERA’s Tatum Taylor toured the group through the building and The Ward to provide context for the day. ERA Principal Scott Weir delivered a talk on the building’s architecture and history, followed by an introduction to examples of adaptive reuse projects, such as Loblaws Warehouse, Postal Station K, Massey Tower, Maple Leaf Gardens, Casey House and the Carlu. The event is timely, as talks have been underway at the municipal government level for months, to determine the future of the site. Change is in the air, and possibilities for conserving the building as a landmark destination for both heritage architectural lovers and community dwellers alike abound.

As Scott is quoted as saying, ‘Now is the perfect time to start dreaming….’

Link to Toronto Star article: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/11/09/bay-dundas-bus-terminal-looks-to-recapture-its-sense-of-grandeur.html

Photo of original Bus Coach Terminal interior courtesy of City of Toronto Archives.
Photos of current Bus Coach Terminal interior and ACO tour courtesy of ERA Architects.

A hospital with heart that embraces its patients celebrates its grand reopening

Dignitaries from the city and province flocked to the grounds surrounding Casey House on a beautiful autumn morning to celebrate the reopening of Canada’s only stand-alone hospital dedicated to those living with HIV/AIDS.

Founded by a group of volunteers in 1988, Casey House was Canada’s first stand-alone treatment facility for people with HIV/AIDS, and the first freestanding hospice in Ontario. At that time, many people were dying alone, cut off from the support of family and friends because of stigma and misplaced fear. The founders’ wise response was to create a home environment in which people with HIV/AIDS could be cared for with dignity and compassion. They created new approaches to palliative care, and played a leading role in both end-of-life care and HIV/AIDS care.

Fast forward almost 30 years, Casey House has been conserved and updated as a warm and welcoming environment; a brand-new state-of-the-art AIDS/HIV healthcare facility that integrates the historic house with a new four-storey extension designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects. The 58,000 ft² addition and restoration of the heritage building commenced in Spring 2015.

As heritage architects, ERA prepared a Master Plan for the property and oversaw the rehabilitation of all exterior and interior heritage fabric. The conservation strategy was to retain and conserve the fabric, replacing deteriorated elements where necessary.

The design of the contemporary facility juxtaposed against the Victorian mansion is distinct but complementary; respecting the existing materiality, preserving its qualities and organizing the day-to-day user experience. Throughout the project, the architects considered how to manifest unifying themes from the AIDS movement such as ‘embrace’ and ‘quilt’ by working the design concept from the inside out.

At its heart, the redevelopment of Casey House was a community-inspired and driven initiative, with stakeholders recognizing the importance of their generous contributions.

Link to Globe and mail article: https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/architecture/torontos-new-casey-house-building-shows-the-medicinal-power-of-light-beauty-anddignity/article36767563/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

Photos by ERA Architects

New Vision Church Preaches to the Converted as ‘The Music Hall’ (with new video link)

Hamilton’s newest live music venue is ready to showcase talent from across the region and beyond. New Vision United Church, the 150-year-old building located at 24 Main St West, formerly known as Centenary Church, is in the process of being transformed to comply with music industry standards while retaining its primary function as a place of worship. In a creative bid to better serve and engage with the wider community, the church congregation is opening their doors to the music industry and its patrons, providing new context to the site as a 1,000-seat live performance venue, ‘The Music Hall’.

The church has already played host to several high-profile entertainment events, such as a ‘Welcome to Hamilton’ benefit concert to raise money for newcomer/refugee youth as a part of Hamilton’s Supercrawl festival, headlined by The National, with performances by Kevin Drew, Hayden, JUNO Fest 2015, with musical guests including Joel Plaskett, Jenn Grant, and Mo Kenney, and a folk-rock performance by musician Terra Lightfoot. There is also an upcoming concert on November 18th with acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Daniel Lanois, with tickets available for sale online now.

The church will be seeking a heritage designation, which will describe the cultural heritage value of the building and guide its renovation work. ERA is working in an architectural consultancy capacity to meet critical building code requirements for fire-rating and washrooms. The next phase of work will include a ticket booth, upgraded seating and acoustics, and a renovated entrance lobby. To garner a sense of the needs of the patrons and discuss what other uses could compliment the building as a concert venue, the firm is attending the New Vision open house on Thursday, October 26th from 5:00 – 7:00pm. The event is free to attend and all members of the public are welcome to attend. Please come with your ideas for transformation!

The schedule for the evening:

5:00pm – Doors open
5:15pm – Welcome and prayer offering, organ fanfare and showcase by Shawn Grenke
5:25pm – Greetings from City Econ. Dev. Director Glen Norton and Ward Councilor Jason Farr
5:45pm – Violin performance by Lance Ouellette
6:15pm – Hamilton Community Choir performance
6:40pm – Words from music industry spokesperson
6:45pm – Performance by Steve Strongman
7:00pm – Wrap-up

Check out Rev. Ian Sloan’s interview with host Doug Farraway on Cable 14’s City Matters: https://cable14now.com/video-on-demand/video/?videoId=2287

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.

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

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.

 

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

 

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.

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!

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

ERA’s Big Day Out: We’re Launching Our 1st Annual Firm-wide Conference on March 3rd, 2017

ERA will be ‘out of office’  on March 3rd, as we attend our first annual conference, offering a range of opportunities to congregate and mingle as a full office! Follow the day’s proceedings – #eracon17.

The following is an abridged agenda:  

9:40 – WELCOME, OPENING REMARKS
9:45 – KEYNOTE SPEAKER ­ Antonella Ceddia, Litigation Lawyer, City of Toronto

–   o r i g i n s   –

10:30 – WHAT DOES ERA DO? Michael McClelland
11:00 – ORIGIN STORY – ERA EXECUTIVES
11:30 – Q&A ­ [GRILL THE EXECUTIVE]
1:10 – WALKING TOURS
Tour 1: Queen West Triangle – A Planning Novella
Tour 2: West-to-West Queen West! – An Architectural Meander
Tour 3: What is a ‘CAMH’ anyway?
Tour 4: Legal Non-conforming Transcendence on Dovercourt

–   o u r   c u r r e n t   p r a c t i c e   –

2:20 – WORKSHOP SESSION 1
Workshop 1.1: How To Read Drawings – for non-architects
Workshop 1.2: Informing Design Through Value Added Collaboration
Workshop 1.3: Ethics And Practice: Choosing Projects / ERA’s Evolving Role As City Builders / Agents Of Civic Values
Workshop 1.4: Best Practices in Architectural Drawings and Detailing
Workshop 1.5: Conservation Process: Theory And Practice
Workshop 1.6: Design Studio: Fundamentals Of House Planning

–   f u t u r e   d i r e c t i o n s   a n d   g r o w t h   –

3:20 – WORKSHOP SESSION 2
Workshop 2.1: Mentorship – Best Practices /Accreditation
Workshop 2.2: Communicating in a Growing Office
Workshop 2.3: ERA Initiatives – Impact and New Practice Areas
Workshop 2.4: Outsider Advice – Applying Our Methodology Outside The GTA
Workshop 2.5: Emerging Practice Area: New Technologies in Conservation
Workshop 2.6: Rethinking Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs)
Workshop 2.7: Emerging Practice Area: Reimagining our Modern Legacy, Conservation and Transformation
Workshop 2.8: The Land We Work On

4:20 – CLOSING REMARKS

The (Lane)way Forward: Exploring the Potential of Under-Served Public Space

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As Toronto’s population increases in density, it places more pressure on ever-shrinking resources, including public space. The use of laneways in the city to increase public space offers the opportunity to release some of this pressure.

ERA’s Annabel Vaughan moderated a panel discussion on November 30th on just this subject. Organized by The Laneway Project, panellists included Jake Tobin Garrett of Park People, Jessica Myers of the Junction BIA, Jonathan Morrice of Toronto Police Service’s 55 Division, Mark van Elsberg, Public Realm Section, City of Toronto, and Monica Wickeler, a visual artist who works in street art and murals.

The Laneway Project – a not-for-profit corporation – champions change, initiating action through a grassroots approach, specializing in ‘tweets to shovels’ social media activism in the realms of planning, urban design, architecture, landscape, communications, research, community engagement and public policy. They would like to see a time-based sharing of spaces: to push laneways to offer an ebb and flow as dynamic, multi-purpose community spaces over a 24-hour cycle.

Laneways lie on the marginal edge and are often associated with crime, however they are vital as potentially thriving public spaces. Toronto often lags behind other international centres when it comes to optimizing our public space. An interesting precedent is Detroit’s TAP (The Alley Project), where garages host street art workshops and animated laneways are adorned with graffiti, creating spaces to engage youth, ultimately changing the focus of their use.

The City of Toronto aims to facilitate stakeholder-driven, incremental interventions of a similar nature, seeking out opportunities to revitalize and enliven existing laneways. This has included limiting parking to enable restaurants to set up licenced patios in alleys, reinventing micro-retail environments, developing parking spot parklettes, retaining historic laneway networks, developing guidelines for housing, and supporting laneway innovations hosted by BIAs and communities as part of the public realm.

The panel successfully fleshed out these opportunities; for Toronto, the conversation is just getting started.

For more information please click here.

‘Tower, Slab, Superblock: Social Housing Legacies and Futures’ Sparks the Imagination on Postwar Design and Construction

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Participants included: Geraldine Dening, Co-Founder, Architects for Social Housing, Simon Elmer, Co-Founder, Architects for Social Housing, Phineas Harper, Deputy Director, The Architecture Foundation, Paul Karakusevic, Founder and Partner, Karakusevic Carson Architects, Jean-Louis Cohen – Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture at New York University, Javier Arpa, Research and Education Coordinator of The Why Factory at Delft University of Technology,
Kenny Cupers, Associate Professor in the History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Basel, Frédéric Druot, Founder and Partner, Frédéric Druot Architecture, Susanne Schindler – Architect, writer, and housing columnist for Urban Omnibus, Martine August, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, and Graeme Stewart, Principal, ERA Architects.

“Never demolish, never remove or replace, always add, transform and reuse!”
– Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal

On December 10th a group of international guests will assemble at the Cooper Union Rose Auditorium in New York City to share thoughts on policy and design improvements to enhance the existing stock of postwar social hosing in North America and Europe, reflecting on the need for creating solutions to reimaging this housing stock.

Hosted by the Architecture League of New York, the focus of the symposium will be the approaches and best practice of three cities: London, Paris, and Toronto. ERA’s Graeme Stewart will speak of the Toronto experience and emerging opportunities through our ongoing work on Tower Renewal.

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When: 9:30 AM – 6:30 PM Saturday, December 10, 2016
Where: Rose Auditorium, The Cooper Union, 41 Cooper Square, New York

For background event information please click here.
For event information please click here.

New Visions for Social Housing in Canadian Architect Magazine

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In the November issue of Canadian Architect author Jay Pitter investigates how spatial issues contribute to community challenges such as isolation, despair and violence in urban social housing communities.

Using the community where she grew up in Toronto as a case study, Pitter explores the design deficiencies of the Corbusian “Towers in the Park” style favoured by Robert Moses in the 1930s. In this piece she reaches out to a group of design leaders from Toronto and Vancouver to discuss how to develop an approach that integrates design, policy and social development by cultivating trust, engagement and collaboration with communities to build social housing for a new generation.

The group consisted of:
Michael Gellar: Vancouver based Architect, Planner and Real Estate Consultant
Gregory Henriquez, FRAIC: Managing Partner of Henriquez Partners Architects
Michael McClelland, FRAIC: Founding Principal of ERA Architects
Graeme Stewart, MRAIC: Principal at ERA Architects
Sheila Penny: Toronto based Architect and VP of Facilities at Toronto Community Housing

Out of this discussion emerged thoughtful ways of building more complete social housing communities by considering the lived reality of residents made up by the systems and structures that shape their daily experiences. The group emphasized the importance of developing trust through a more collaborative process and providing the tools to allow residents to shape their own neighbourhoods and respond to community needs.

Click here to view the article.

Big Cities in a ‘small’ Context

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How do cities grow? Do we limit growth or encourage it? Direct it or simply discover its natural rhythms? While municipal planning, land use policies and settlement patterns have shaped the physical aspect of North American cities, often social, cultural and environmental forces leave a firmer mark on our communities.

ERA’s Philip Evans and Heather Campbell were recently invited by Princeton University’s Frank and Deborah Popper to discuss with their land-use planning students how Canadian cities address population growth. This conversation prioritizes the sustainability of communities by rooting development in the broader cultural heritage context: recognizing the diversity of people, places and lifestyles which have both shaped and responded to the growth of buildings, streetscapes and communities. The role of reuse – from buildings and skills, to gathering spaces and local economies – within the evolution of our communities is essential to sustainable growth and a sense and quality of place in both countries.

ERA’s small program shifted the focus to shrinking areas, mainly rural, and the challenges of industry closure, population loss and infrastructure decline. With the Buffalo Commons project, the Popper’s study of American frontier communities addresses questions about longevity and sustainability on environmental, social and economic fronts. Similarly, small’s focus on livable communities within Canada’s unique rural context aims to develop support for small-scale cultural economic drivers, to address the shift and redesign in the rural landscape, from natural resource dependency to a new cultural economy.

These continuing cross-border conversations help us develop a deeper understanding of our possible reciprocal contributions to both sustainable city-building and the sustainability of smaller places, those often overlooked by broader policy supports. It is the conversations of the next generation of leaders, their priorities and principles which need to be reflected in the development of our communities today.

The Picturesque Gothic Villa Comes to Town: The Emergence of Toronto’s Bay-and-Gable House Type

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In a recent issue of ‘Architecture in Canada’ (Vol. 41, Issue #1), Principal Architect Scott Weir has composed an article that celebrates the typology of the bay-and-gable house. The issue is currently available in hard copy and will be posted on the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada’s (SSAC) website in the coming month. The text that follows is an excerpt.

Continue reading…

Teaching-based Professionals, Business-based Researchers

The magazine Landscapes: Landscape Architecture in Canada/Paysages: L’architecture de Paysage au Canada examines and explores pertinent issues in the field of landscape architecture. In their latest issue (Vol. 18, No. 2), the article “Active Praxis, Hybrid Practice,” written by Shelley Long, takes a look into the new hybrid practices found in landscape architecture, in both teaching-based and business-based environments, wherein academics and professionals are experimenting with interdisciplinary thinking to formulate new ideas, inspire innovation, and move the profession forward.

Teaching-based professionals included Marc Boutin from Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative (MBAC) in Calgary, Alissa and Pete North from North Design Office of Toronto, and Dietmar Straub and Anna Thurmayr from Straub + Thurmary Landschaftarchiteken of Winnipeg. These individuals integrate their academic research into their landscape architecture practice to inform new methods and engage the public. Texture City (MBAC), Core Sample installations (North Design Office, 2006), and the Folly Forest project (Straub + Thurmayr Landschaftarchiteken) are all excellent examples of academic risk-taking and interdisciplinary innovation.

Business-based research and innovation relies on a creative office culture that supports and promotes interdisciplinary research and experimentation. Firms that encourage this experimental approach include ERA Architects, located in Toronto, Montreal, and Prince Edward County, Claude Cormier + Associés (CC+A) in Montreal, and the Hapa Collaborative in Vancouver. Each of these firms has advanced the field of landscape architecture through collaborative projects and community-based initiatives. For example, ERA has worked with community members to establish the non-profit group Friends of Allan Gardens (FOAG), and helped organize, alongside Janet Rosenberg and Studio and The Cultural Landscape Foundation, the first-ever conference in Canada on cultural landscapes. ERA also helped in the administration of the Tower Renewal project, which began as a thesis and is now a forceful project that will transform the future of Toronto’s tower neighbourhoods. CC+A’s design for Berczy Park in Toronto and Hapa Collaborative’s Mid Main Park’s “bendy-straw” trellis are also excellent examples of innovative projects propelled by research and experimentation.

Flashback Friday: A Jane’s Walk Down Memory Lane

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ERA loves the Jane’s Walk festival. Not only do the walks encourage citizens to share stories, explore communities, and connect with neighbours, they also provide platforms for discussing important urban, suburban, and rural issues that affect communities across the world. The Jane’s Walk festival is a global event that is celebrated in over 200 cities, and we’re excited that it’s just around the corner! From May 6-8, join in this worldwide event and lead or join a walk. Continue reading…

University of Toronto’s Landscape of Landmark Quality Design Competition

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The University of Toronto put forward an eight-week intensive Landscape of Landmark Quality Innovative Design Competition to revitalize the historic landscapes of St. George campus. These major public spaces include King’s College Circle, Hart House Circle, the Sir Daniel Wilson Quadrangle, Back Campus, and Tower Road. Following a qualification stage, four teams were selected to prepare design proposals. Continue reading…