ERA Architects

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.

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 Steps Back in Time

 

As architects (and appreciators of all things historic) an office discussion regarding family heirlooms of tools, appliances, and other cool items (that predate most of our staff) has resulted in this great photo collection of household artifacts.

Brendan1Brendan Stewart has a block and tackle handed down from his great grandfather..

b2…and a rocking chair that came from his great great grandparents that dates back at least 150 years.

 

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 9.54.35 AMSydney Martin’s very old microwave. She even has a cookbook complete with a microwaved rack of lamb recipe.

draftingkit[1] tatumTatum Taylor’s grandfather’s set of architectural drafting tools.

philip Philip Evans has this bright red and yellow 1961 lawn mower.

Lindsay R.Lindsay Reid has a set of tools in her workshop from her grandfather…

Lindsay R2.. and a really cool foot measuring tool.

image1Scott Weir’s wooden boatbuilding tools, belonging to family member James Weir of Glasgow.

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IMG_0579A 17th- 18th century Norwegian mangle board used to flatten linen is a family heirloom of Victoria Angel.

Edwin Toaster and ToastAnd the greatest of all, Edwin Rowse’s 95 year old toaster, equipped with a slice of fresh toast to prove it still works.

 

 

Powers of Towers: New video starring Graeme Stewart and Sabina Ali

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ERA’s Graeme Stewart and Sabina Ali of the Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee are featured in a terrific new video by Spacing. The video, which also includes interviews with ERA’s Michael McClelland, is entitled “Powers of Towers,” and profiles the efforts of Graeme and Sabina to transform Toronto’s aging suburban high-rise neighbourhoods into livable communities that work. Graeme and Sabina were jointly awarded the 2014 Jane Jacobs Prize, also presented by Spacing magazine. Continue reading…

PechaKucha of the day

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Recently PechaKucha selected a Graeme Stewart talk as a “Presentation of the Day.” We thought, What better reason to repost the presentation? It’s a great crash course in Tower Renewal, an interdisciplinary program that is reshaping how we think about Toronto’s post-war residential apartment tower neighbourhoods.

This 7-minute talk covers half a century of Toronto’s history, right up to some of the exciting new initiatives taking place in and around the city.

PechaKucha is a simple presentation genre where presenters speak about 20 images for 20 seconds each. The method was devised by Tokyo-based architects Klein-Dytham as a way to facilitate dialog and idea generation between architects, designers, and other creative thinkers.

To see other presentations, please visit pechakucha.org.

For more on Tower Renewal, visit towerrenewal.com

Architecture and value

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This past November at Carleton University’s Forum Lecture Series, ERA’s Michael McClelland presented on how changing cultural values interact with how we practice architecture.

Seeking to expand the range of what we think of as architecture, Michael’s talk asks, What should architects do? According to him, they shouldn’t only make buildings, but conduct research, engage the public, study the world, respond to changing values, and… throw parties.

To read Spacing Ottawa’s review of the talk, see Spacing online.

Or, watch the video of the slide presentation below:

Toronto’s City Hall: An evolving icon

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Monocle recently profiled Toronto’s City Hall, designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, positioning it as the city’s most distinctive piece of architectural design. ERA’s Graeme Stewart is featured in the discussion of how the building began, and how it has evolved as a central moment in the urban and civic experience of Toronto.

Continue reading…

ERA in Montreal

This past weekend, the ERA Toronto office paid a visit to their Montreal counterpart. With the sun shining and 22 degree weather in September, the stage was set for a fun-filled weekend exploring Montreal. (Scroll down for the slide show.) Continue reading…

New video doc on Sharon Temple

Video producer Vanessa Ireson has recently made an excellent short documentary about one of ERA’s favourite projects: Sharon Temple. The Temple was completed in 1832 by the Children of Peace, a group of former Quakers who, among other things, advocated for peace and democracy and created the first credit union in Canada. The building is a masterpiece in wood and a monument to a fascinating part of 19th century Canadian culture.

In the video, curator John McIntyre and ERAer Jan Kubanek introduce viewers to the history of the Temple and its design, as well as the recent restoration and preservation project led by ERA.

Many thanks to Vanessa Ireson, who produced the video through the generous support of Co-op TV at the Co-operators.

Canada Screen Award to NFB’s “Highrise”

Last week the NFB’s Highrise: One Millionth Tower won a Canada Screen Award for “Original Program Produced for Digital Media, Non-Fiction.” ERA and the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R) had the pleasure of working with the NFB on this remarkable series, directed by Kat Cizek, which examines the current conditions and future potential of post-war high-rise living around the world. Continue reading…

ERA in Buffalo

Recently, ERAers Alana Young and Josh Thorpe took trips to investigate the fascinating city of Buffalo, New York. Less than two hours from Toronto by car, Buffalo is a city of major historical significance to the region and has some stunning work in planning and architecture. Continue reading…

Evergreen Brickworks film wins Hotdocs award

Crowd the Schoolhouse, a short film inspired by the evolution and regeneration of the Evergreen Brickworks site (a project in ERA’s portfolio), recently received two awards at the International Documentary Challenge. Each film must be 5 minutes long, filmed within the same five days at the beginning of March, and based on the theme of “cycles.” The entry by team Made-in-Toronto received the award for best writing and Best Use of Genre (Social Issue/Political). Congratulations!

See the video at International Documentary Challenge.

The Millionth Tower

The Millionth Tower web-based documentary has launched! This weekend the project was featured on the highly-respected Wired.com site, and is already making significant waves re-imagining the way emerging web-based technologies can help to tell highly personal stories in our increasingly connected world. We are all very proud to have been involved – please see the making-of mini-documentary embedded above, and be sure and go check out the interactive documentary..

The Suburbs


Above: 32 Saintfield Road by Jerome Markson, 1961

In the 1950s and 60s, Toronto’s Bridle Path was not just an enclave of faux-châteaux, but an architectural hotbed for Toronto’s young modernists looking to execute designs for clients with large lots, and large budgets. Continue reading…

Fogel Residence

Inspired by this photograph of Irving Grossman’s Fogel Residence on TOBuilt, we went to the library and dug up a bit more information about this now-demolished modernist gem.  Built in North York, Ontario, and completed in 1959, the Fogel Residence was a finalist for the Massey Medals in Architecture in 1961.  Scanned photocopies from the August 1960 issue of Canadian Architect are presented below.

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Transport-related energy consumption

Edwin found this telling little graph in a supplement to Topos magazine.  It clearly illustrates, using a range of international examples, how per-capita transport-related energy consumption reduces with increasing population densities. Interesting with reference to our previous studies on visualizing density, and with the on-going uncertainty surrounding the future of Transit City. The illustration accompanies an article by Udo Weilacher, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Industrial Landscapes at Technische Universitat Munchen titled Landscape must become the law – again.

Of the ‘descriptive coloured dots describing trends’ theme, this excerpt from the documentary The Joy of Stats, presented by Hans Rosling, is incredibly effective. The full, hour-long documentary is equally fascinating.

Collaborate with entropy

At the Design Forum this morning, Will presented four European precedents for the large-scale adaptive reuse of industrial structures.


1847 Coal Mine and Coke plant Zeche Zollverein in Essen, Germany. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. 2001. The site attracts a half-million visitors each year.


Winter skating along the former shipping channel at Zeche Zollverein in Essen, Germany.



Duisburg-Nord Landscape Park, Ruhr District, Germany. The former iron mill has been converted to a cultural and leisure park, and attracts over 700,000 visitors each year.


Originally built in 1901, the former industrial complex was transformed into a recreation landscape park in 1991.



NDSM, Amsterdam. 1999. Within this former shipyard to the north of the city, independent steel structures were built inside of the long warehouse building, and these empty voids were then leased to artists and designers who were able to construct their own studios.

The presentation concluded with a projection to one or two local sites of interest, a good discussion about the realistic potentials for these types of civic projects in our North American culture, and an identification of opportunities for further study.

Fiction and Intervention

Artist Luke Painter has a number of wonderful flash animations in the Architecture at Harbourfront Gallery, as a part of the ongoing Neighbourhood Maverick show. The animations illustrate vacant sites on the verge of development, and play with memories of the site’s former uses.

Neighbourhood Maverick runs until June 11, 2011.

Have a look at the rest of Luke‘s portfolio for more beautifully haunting, architecturally themed works.

Home on the range

Scott recently completed a kitchen renovation for a private home in Cabbagetown. Centred around a six burner Wolf range, the space was just wide enough to accommodate a galley format with two runs of extra deep counters, lit by new double hung Kolbe and Kolbe windows.

More photos after the jump..

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