ERA Architects

Loblaws Lakeshore

The Financial Post has a small feature on the Loblaws Groceteria building at Lakeshore and Bathust.  ERA are consulting as Heritage Architects on the developing project. Though Loblaws had no comment for the story, local developer Paul Oberman described the project eloquently:

“I think that’s what heritage preservation is all about. It’s adaptive reuse: breathing a new life into old buildings and spaces,” said Paul Oberman, president and CEO of Woodcliffe Landmark Properties, which was behind such restoration projects as King James Place and the LCBO at the North Toronto Station.

“Cities, urban spaces, they have a rhythm and a texture to them, and I don’t think that we want neighbourhoods that are exclusively high-rise or exclusively low-rise. It’s about weaving an interesting and appropriate urban fabric.”

The ghost of Matta-Clark visits Toronto

As previously mentioned, ERA is involved with the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the John F. Taylor house, and work has now begun on site.

The former east and west additions to the designated building have been removed, and general site preparation is underway. Restoration work is set to begin this spring, where by the heritage home will be returned to a house in the round. More photographs after the jump.

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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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Allstream Centre _ restoration photographs


A few very quick photographs from the restoration of the former Automotive Building north lobby. This part of the project included the removal of a number of unsympathetic modern additions, and a significant regrading of the original floor slope to accommodate contemporary universal accessibility requirements.  Extensive metal work and finishes were also replicated or restored (including the amazing pendant light fixtures seen in the bottom-most photograph), and new windows installed replicating the original design and colour.

More images after the jump.

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Maple Leaf Gardens _ Heritage Interpretation Plan


Alexandra Studio Fonds; 1257, series 1057, item 4737

Built in 1931, Maple Leaf Gardens quickly became a social and cultural hub in the city, and it is no overstatement to say that the wide variety of events held there over the ensuing decades influenced the cultural development of the nation.  Best known as the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team from 1931 to 1999, the Gardens also hosted political rallies, large religious congregations and assemblies, military drills, and pageants.  The large, clear-span arena provided the setting for every conceivable form of musical entertainment, from the Metropolitan Opera to Metallica.  It was also the battleground for boxers, wrestlers and runners, and has hosted innumerable bicycle races, tennis matches, ice follies, basketball games, rodeos, ballets, bingos, and circuses.  The building is widely acknowledged as a local and national landmark, and has been recognized as a National Historic Site.  As part of the on-going Maple Leaf Gardens adaptive reuse project by Loblaws and Ryerson University, ERA is currently developing the Heritage Interpretation Plan to celebrate the rich history of the Gardens as a series of moments and stories distributed throughout both new owner spaces.

In doing our research and combing through the mountains of audio/visual content associated with the building from the past eighty years, we’ve come across some pretty amusing photographs.  This is one of our favorites, found at the City of Toronto Archives.  Who is … The Legionnaire Mystery Man?

 

The Colours of the Allandale Train Station

As part of the strategy to restore the Allandale Train Station, ERA is working to identify the exterior paint scheme, as it would have appeared in 1905.  At the office social hour last Friday, Alana described how preliminary research uncovered clues to the original building colouration from a variety of sources including; archival photographs, newspaper clippings and postcards.

Additionally, ERA consulted with a professional paint analyst.  She analyzed paint samples removed from various locations on the buildings to accurately determine the original 1905 colours.

The combination of archival resources and physical samples has informed a colour scheme that uses four main colours – consistent with the standard corporate colours of the Grand Trunk Railroad.

The three buildings in the station complex were not all built at the same time.  The brick office building to the far right in the illustration above pre-dates the restaurant (middle) and passenger depot (left).  The original brick building was also decorated with Chinese screenings around windows, doors and along the fascia under the roofline.  These stencils may be restored at a later date.

The Brick Works _ from academia to practice

Here at ERA, we seek to operate at the fine and blurred line between the realms of theory and practice.  Two ERAers are currently teaching design studios at the Daniels School of Architecture at the University of Toronto, and a number of employees in the office have been able to continue working on large-scale projects that they originally investigated at school.   For example, Kirsty‘s masters design thesis Postproduction: the adaptive renewal of industrial-purpose built architecture looked at the rediscovery of Toronto’s Don Valley Brick Works. Her theoretical proposal encompassed sustainable re-use strategies that were developed through an extensive study into the history and current state of the site.

Factory production of the early twenty-first century was generally linear and parochial.  The architecture of these factories was designed to be functional, flexible, and subservient to the processes housed within. Industrial production tended to follow a sequence of gathering resources, mixing the parts, producing the product, and distributing the product.  Process buildings at resource extraction sites were constantly in flux, and for the most part this led to dereliction once the resource was exhausted. Owing to the initiative of Evergreen, the re-imagined complex has now become a vehicle for the propagation of sustainable ideas. Clay is no longer the resource. The Brick Works site itself has become the resource; an amazing landscape and raw space full of opportunity.

ERA has been working on the Evergreen Brick Works project for over a decade now.  Since joining the firm, Kirsty has been able to continue working on the adaptive re-use of these structures, and their transfer from industrial production to cultural opportunity.  The rehabilitation of the Brick Works buildings and artifacts is an on-going process of renewal.  Significant rehabilitation work remains, but this past fall Evergreen were able to move into their new home, and have opened their doors seven days a week to the community.

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.

The Allenby, to the Roxy, to the Allenby

With the historic marquee now back in place, the Allenby has been catching a good bit of attention recently.

From Christopher Hume’s piece Tim does its bit on the Danforth, in the Toronto Star:

Cleaned up and nicely restored, the Allenby looks better than it has in years. The 1930s art deco movie house is no masterpiece, but it has character and exuberance. As is so often the case with these old cinemas, the building is all façade. With its streamlined symmetry and classic marquée cantilevered over the entrance, it is a relic from another age. Though only 75 years old, the Allenby comes from a time when movies weren’t such an industrial pursuit. It also speaks of a moment when architecture was allowed to be entertaining.

The modernists would soon do away with that, another reason why the former Roxy remains one of a tiny handful of architectural highlights on the Danforth. Most of the street is lined with two- and three-storey boxes of the sort that can be found throughout Toronto.

ERA has been working on the restoration and adaptive re-use of the Allenby (aka Roxy) Cinema since 2006.  The façade was entirely restored and greatly re-built, as the cinema had originally been hastily built at the tail end of the great depression.  The entire marquee sign was replaced, as well as the vitrolite glass at the ground floor window storefronts.  The terrazzo floors are being refurbished at the exterior lobby, and the interior lobby has been retained and is being re-used as the new Tim Horton’s component of Esso’s Gas station to the west of the property. The ticket booth is also being reinstated.

Though Hume’s article mentions that this is just a façade – in reality the first bay of structure was retained, proving to be both a modern engineering feat and a very effective and unique method for preserving  an old cinema that features an exterior lobby and ticket booth.

Katie Daubs also had a story in the Star; Wanted on ‘other’ Danforth: More foot-powered traffic, which focuses on the Allenby as a key component in the neighbourhood’s burgeoning rejuvenation.

MLG in Canadian Architect

Conceptual collage of overlapping 1930s and contemporary MLG streetscapes at the corner of Church and Carlton (including Humphrey Bogart biking by, just for good measure). William MacIvor, ERA Architects.

The on-going adaptive reuse of Maple Leaf Gardens is featured in the June edition of Canadian Architect.

ERA Architects has signed on to deal with the restoration of the façade and the canopy. … [A]bout one-fifth of the bricks will be repointed, [and] much of the material can be salvaged from the new openings for loading bays and air intake vents. The upper level fenestration will be refitted with double-glazed vintage steel industrial windows. ERA is also developing a restoration plan for the oft-renovated entrance canopy that brings its appearance (including fonts) back to the Gardens’ heyday from the 1940s to the 1960s.


The current state of internal excavation, and preliminary shoring & foundation work. ERA Architects.

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.

Art of the Danforth, on the Roxy

The first ever Art of the Danforth art crawl is in full swing, including an exhibition along on the hoarding at the Roxy (Formerly Allenby) Theatre construction site.  ERA has been working on the restoration and adaptive re-use of the Allenby Theatre for ESSO, including the conversion of the lobby space of the old theatre into a new Tim Hortons.

The Allenby Theatre opened in 1935 and was designed by the well-known Toronto architectural firm of Kaplan and Sprachman.  This firm, established in 1921, was responsible for the design of between seventy and eighty percent of all movie theatres in Canada between the years 1921 and 1950.  At the time it stood as a landmark building on Danforth Avenue because of its level of detailing and scale in relation to the adjacent commercial properties.

Work is scheduled to be complete by Summer 2010, including restoration of the glass (previously vitrolite) ground floor exterior lobby and ticket booth. The Art Moderne masonry street façade and windows are complete. The Allenby Theatre’s new life as a Tim Hortons is sure to aid in the revival of the Eastern Danforth Avenue neighborhood, encouraging development and community activity along this stretch of the street.

Pictured above, the Pigeon Paradigm Project ‘celebrates the cultural and natural history of this area of Toronto and the vibrant life that now exists along Danforth Avenue’, according to artists Real Eguchi & Barbara Flanagan-Eguchi. More images are available on Flickr.

Brickworks in the news again

Today’s Globe and Mail features an article by Angela Kryhul about the ongoing development at the Evergreen Brick Works; Brick Works fired up for the future, including an informative time-line of the historic evolution of the site.

From the article:

William Taylor was digging holes for fence posts one day when he came across a type of clay that he suspected would make a high-quality brick. His hunch proved correct and in 1889 William and his brothers John and George started a quarry and factory that, for nearly 100 years, churned out bricks and kiln-fired clay products used to build Canadian landmarks such as the Ontario Legislature and Osgoode Hall.

But the once bustling Don Valley Brick Works was abandoned in 1984. The jumble of dilapidated brick buildings and metal sheds sat idle for close to three decades until Evergreen – a national charity devoted to greening communities – approached the City of Toronto with a proposal to reinvent the site as a showplace for urban sustainability.

That transformation is now taking shape as the Evergreen Brick Works is readied for a September grand opening. Forest, meadow and wetlands occupy the northern part of the 16-hectare property, which was once the clay and shale quarry. To the south is the cluster of 16 heritage-designated buildings, 12 of which are being redeveloped as part of the $55-million project.

As Heritage Architect for the project, ERA continues to work diligently behind the scenes to ensure that the built history and cultural heritage of the site are celebrated through the final development.

In a related aside, ERA is also working on the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the John F. Taylor house, built by the son of John Taylor Sr.  Later additions to the original Taylor House will be demolished, and the existing site will be landscaped and improved to make the site more usable, and to enhance views of the house from Broadview Avenue.

photograph courtesy of the Toronto Archives.

Undoing the Gardens

Since the story has leaked, we feel safe enough revealing some photographs of the interior demolition at Maple Leaf Gardens. These photographs were taken approximately three weeks ago, and work is on-going..

Though the destruction looks ‘apocalyptic’, it is all being performed in an extremely careful and controlled manner, and in the service of future renewal.  The renovated facility will be jointly owned by Loblaws and Ryerson University, and will feature retail facilities at the ground floor with a university sports complex above, including an ice rink on the upper level beneath the central dome.

More images after the jump.

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Parkwood in the news

Dave LeBlanc has an excellent article in the Globe and Mail today about one of our favorite projects, the Parkwood National Historic Site.

Parkwood National Historic Site was built in 1916 as the home of the late R. S. McLaughlin, founder of General Motors Canada. The building, designed by prominent Toronto architects Darling and Pearson, now serves as a historic house museum, with a collection that includes original furniture, paintings, and tapestries. ERA has provided professional conservation services for the site, including the restoration of the stone grand stair case and terrace overlooking the Water Garden, designed by John Lyle.

Read In Oshawa, an automobile pioneer’s Xanadu

Evergreen Brick Works

Construction and conservation work are ongoing down at the Evergreen Brick Works, and the project has recently been attracting a good deal of attention. The Toronto Star reports today that National Geographic Traveler named Evergreen Brick Works a Top 10 destination for sustainable travel, and ERA was present for the recent royal site visit from HRH The Prince of Wales.


The Prince gives the Brick Works Farmers’ Market produce the Royal review.

ERA is currently working to stabilize the south east corner of Building 11, which will be adjacent to the new site entrance and welcome centre.


Building 11, as it currently stands

The floors between building 14 and 15 have been excavated and prep work is underway for the new greenways.

ERA is also working with Shawn Selway, of Pragmata Historic Machinery Conservation, to develop a conservation strategy and interpretation of the Martin A. Brick Machine.



The Martin A. Brick Press

Work is ongoing, so check back soon for further updates…

People per Hectare _ Installation Documentation


We often talk about density in terms of numerical ratios, or other quantitative abstractions. Our intention here is to try and map the spatial experience of specific densities to their numerical signifiers, and then relate these examples directly to similar conditions in Toronto.

Continue reading the full post below for expanded versions of the neighbourhood and density studies shown at the COMMUNITY CENTRED exhibition.

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People per Hectare _ Toronto by Numbers

Density is one of the key tools currently used for planning cities. Architects, planners, and policy makers all use density as a calibration of the city.

We want to make our cities better, more vital, more full of possibilities. As our cities change, we want to propose change intelligently. To change intelligently, we need to understand density.

For the ERA installation at the Harbourfront Centre, as part of the COMMUNITY CENTRED exhibition, we asked our office to contribute examples of places they had recently visited. How did density affect built form? How did density affect the quality of the environment?

We often discuss density in terms of numerical ratios, or other quantitative abstractions. Our intention with this installation is to try and map the spatial experience of specific densities to their numerical signifiers, as free of imported bias (culture, context, etc) as possible.

By assembling this information we are now able to consider: how do Toronto’s neighbourhoods compare?

Please join us for the opening reception:

Friday January 22, 2010
6:00 to 10:00pm

York Quay Centre
235 Queens Quay West

Union Station Train Shed Renewal



The interior of the Union Station Train Shed, shortly after opening.

Completed in 1930, the Union Station Train Shed was designed by Toronto Terminals Railway Assistant Bridge Engineer A.R. Ketterson. The design was a variation on the Bush train shed, invented by American Engineer Lincoln Bush in 1904. Bush sheds replaced the expensive and difficult to maintain, large balloon-framed train sheds that were common in 19th century Europe. Linear smoke ducts directly above the tracks would permit the evacuation of smoke from locomotives while protecting passenger platforms from the elements. Other Bush sheds include: Chicago Union station 1925, Hoboken NJ 1906, Winnipeg 1911, and Montreal Windsor Station.


The western end of the Union Station Train Shed, currently.

ERA, as Heritage Consultant, is responsible for the conservation of the Train Shed as part of Union Station Train Shed Rehabilitation. The Train Shed Rehabilitation is a major part of the 10-year program of repair, restoration and upgrading of the Metrolinx facility and railway corridor.



Original structural steel drawings, above, and portions of the proposed rehabilitation work by ERA, below.

The Train Shed is designated a National Historic Site and is subject to a heritage easement agreement between Parks Canada and Go Transit. The project includes the construction of a new central atrium (designed by Zeidler Partnership Architects), the restoration of the shed over Tracks 1 and 2, and the rehabilitation of the remainder of the shed. Construction is to begin shortly, and is set to last 5 years.



The Union Station Train Shed, before and after revitalization. Prominent features include a large, elevated central atrium space, a through-connection to the Air Canada Center, and the extensive green roof.

Together with the Union Station Revitalization project initiated by the City of Toronto, the changes forthcoming at Union Station will greatly improve the efficiency and user experience of the station. For more information, please see the official Union Station Renewal site.