ERA Architects

Metro Morning on Tower Renewal

Matt Galloway with Priti from the NBF’s HIGHRISE, Image Courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada

This week CBC’s Metro Morning is taking to the Kipling strip north of Finch to talk tower renewal, in an area of aging concrete towers that were typical all across Toronto during the early 1950s and ’60s.

On Wednesday, February 15th Graeme Stewart will appear for an interview on Metro Morning’s live broadcast from the Rexdale building at 2667 Kipling. This building is also the focus of the NFB’s HIGHRISE documentary, One Millionth Tower.

Follow Graeme’s interview Wednesday morning on CBC Metro Morning.

For all things tower renewal, visit ERA’s Tower Renewal blog.

Tar Creek Supergrid in the Standard

Amy, one of ERA’s latest recruits, was recently featured in the Toronto Standard.  Her Master’s thesis (completed with Clint Langevin) was a large-scale, radical proposal to utilize toxic sites in North America for future ecologically-oriented development.  The full description of the project makes for a very interesting read.

Four awards for ERA at CAHP Awards ceremony

ERA were the recipient of four awards at this year’s Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals award ceremony in Victoria. Joey took the trip out west to receive the awards on behalf of the office. The awards are as follows;

Preservation of a heritage building, award of merit Sharon Temple

Craftsmanship award of merit Allenby Theatre

Conservation of a heritage landscape award of merit Victoria Memorial Square Park & Monument

Heritage planning award Tower Neighbourhood Renewal In the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Alana, NOW

Alana was featured in NOW Magazine this week, in the special career insert. She discussed her training, why she is excited to be working with ERA, and what it’s like to study and practice architecture in what is still a largely male dominated industry.

*photograph from NOW Magazine

New Bloor

Marcus Gee has an article in the Globe today discussing the public realm improvements to the ‘Mink Mile’ along Bloor:

The sidewalks have been widened by four feet to accommodate the bustling street life of Canada’s ritziest retail strip. The tired concrete of the old sidewalks has been replaced by Quebec-quarried granite paving stones of dark “Atlantic grey.” The 134 new London Plane trees are planted in specially designed soil cells to ease them through the stresses of urban life. Stone benches and specially designed new bike rings punctuate the avenue. On a late spring afternoon, shoppers and gawkers stream along the street, passing the gilded storefronts of Hermès, Tiffany and Holt Renfrew. Despite all the bad press, the project is an unmistakable success – proof that some city-building exercises are worth the wait.

A huge congratulations to our neighbours Brown + Storey, who are responsible for the design.  The attention to detail in all elements of the project is remarkable – we love the weathering steel tree-ring and service covers, all aligned with the joints in the pavers.

Yonge Street

Michael is currently featured on the Yonge Street website, where he discusses postwar Toronto architecture.

Usually, even when people like a building, that initial appreciation declines and it continues to fall for several decades. After 40 years, it hits an all-time low. But if a building can survive past that 40-year period, then there will be a renewed appreciation of the building. Take Old City Hall. Today people think it’s a wonderful Romanesque building but in the 1940s, they said it was fussy and overdone. Our purpose in addressing these concrete buildings is to examine whether that pattern of evolving tastes meant people were dismissing some architectural jewels. Not all these buildings are beautiful or interesting. But we really wanted people to look more closely before jumping to that conclusion.

Read the full interview here.

The new Standard

Graeme is featured on the cover of the brand new Toronto Standard online daily news portal, with an extensive interview covering the Tower Neighbourhood Renewal initiative.

This is a 20-year project. We’re talking about a huge number of buildings, hundreds of neighbourhoods and over a million [residents]. It’s about a gradual process of improvement. For now, it’s working in specific communities with different landowners, asking whether we can take down some fences, rezone for mixed use, introduce some modest demonstration projects regarding community development and building upgrade. Then we can make these new ideas viral, the new status quo. Over the long term, this can provide real opportunities for a more sustainable and livable city-region.

These buildings aren´t going anywhere, but the longer we wait, the more difficult the challenge. It’s time to get going.

Read the full interview here, titled ‘Reinventing Suburbia‘.  Half newspaper and half blog, the Standard is beautiful to look at, and is a welcome voice in the ongoing local discourse.

Headspace

Michael was recently interviewed for Spacing Magazine, as a part of their Headspace series highlighting “how Toronto can become a more engaged, accessible, sustainable city”.

Spacing: Why are heritage buildings important?

McClelland: People tend not to have a clear classification of “heritage” but if you consider cities like Montreal and London, they each have a specific sense of place. Older buildings are an important component of that.  Another concern is that you can lose much of your city’s culture if you lose what’s already been built. Older buildings, such as those in downtown Toronto, provide fairly inexpensive rental space allowing for cultural communities to flourish. If you demolish an older building and put up a new one, the tax rate changes so significantly that modest uses get priced out. You end up taking away an interesting bookstore with students living above it and replace it with a Shoppers Drug Mart or another large retailer. There is a need to retain older buildings in order to retain diversity.

Read the full interview here, and be on the lookout for the new Winter 2011 issue of Spacing magazine on newsstands now.

Photographs above (by ERA) record the transformation of the Artscape Wychwood Barns

King Edward Hotel condo conversion receives top marks.

Christopher Hume, in his Toronto Star Condo Critic column, has given the ongoing King Eddy condo conversion project an ‘A’ grade.

Though it was a social and business centre of Edwardian Toronto; for decades it never quite fitted in as anything more than the Grande Dame of King St. In the 21st century, that’s all changed. The gilded splendour of the old King Edward now shines brighter than ever. Who wouldn’t want to live there? If that isn’t an idea that occurred to anyone sooner, it is definitely one whose time has come.

Three floors of the hotel building which had previously been commercial space are being redeveloped as private condominiums.  ERA are the architects-in-charge of the project, with The Design Agency handling interior design.

Read the full article.

Two Sheds

Completed just before he joined ERA, one of Joey Giaimo’s projects is featured in the July issue of Canadian Architect.

Bred from his Masters thesis work at UBC,

which considered residual or underutilized space in the city and how it could be redesigned in ways not typically considered to connect with adjacent spaces, Giaimo proposed that the sheds be constructed of customary, practical materials to blend in with the industrial context of the neighbourhood–but in an unconventional way to challenge current approaches to these stereotypical ancillary structures and create meaningful public engagement or activity.

“Formally, sheds are boring structures–strictly utilitarian,” says Giaimo. “The project questions this understanding and how design could inform a rethinking of this building type.”

Read the full article ‘Two Sheds Are Better Than One‘ by Clare Tattersall here.

King Edward Hotel in the Globe & Mail

Dave Leblanc had an article on the redevelopment of the King Edward Hotel in yesterdays Globe and Mail.

The hotel – ventilation, colonnades and all – opened in May 1903 and was advertised as “absolutely fire-proof” (built of steel and concrete) to calm guests fearful of staying on upper floors. It had everything: Women-only areas for solo female travelers, lavish murals, a men’s barber shop, the Palm Room, the Oak Room bar and, of course, the exquisite Rotunda. In 1921, the 18-storey “skyscraper” addition, designed by a Buffalo, N.Y. and a London, Ontario firm, was tacked onto the east side of the hotel; until being eclipsed by the Royal York in 1929, the King Eddy was the largest hotel in the country. The Crystal Ballroom on the 18th floor set a new standard, and celebrities from Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor partied there.

Three floors of the hotel building which had previously been commercial space are  being redeveloped as private condominiums.  ERA are the architects-in-charge of the project, with The Design Agency handling interior design.


Rendering by The Design Agency.

Read the full article “Old King Eddy shows how to mix business and history” from the May 27, 2010, edition of the Globe and Mail here.

Found Toronto Installation in the News

Following a successful opening reception for the Building on History exhibition, ERA Architects’ Found Toronto installation was highlighted in the January 31st edition of the National Post. The photograph above was taken at the reception and the following text is from the newspaper article.

Learn about Victorian Toronto and more at inspiring architecture show
If you appreciate architecture, the Harbourfront Centre is the place to be. Until June 14, Building on History celebrates Toronto and Ontario’s architectural legacy –indeed, we have one and the number and variety of participants in this exhibit is proof. Inspiring installations include works by ERA Architects. The firm has recreated the 1858 Boulton Atlas, one of the earliest maps of the city, on a massive scale, letting the public see the Victorian city that was in order to see how the old Toronto connects to contemporary Toronto. Other contributors include Goldsmith Borgal & Company Architects and Taylor Hazell Architects. And if photography excites you, documentary shooter Peter Sibbald’s photo series and essay, Elegy for a Stolen Land, is a real treat.