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.

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.

ERA Learns the Fine Art of Tuckpointing from a Melbourne-based Master

On March 15th 20 staff from ERA and members of the Architecture Conservancy of Ontario’s Next Gen group joined Antoni Pijaca, a heritage mason with over 30 years of award-winning tuckpointing experience for a workshop focusing on techniques and skills of the trade. English Tuckpointing is a brick-laying method used on homes, churches, schools and institutions. Materials required included lime mortar, lime putty, a straightedge, tuck irons and frenchman (ribbon knives).

This technique was popular in Toronto’s late 1800’s architecture as a cosmetic solution that imitated the gauged brickwork found in England during the same period. It was an efficient and effective means of capturing the same appearance, but requiring less work and precision.

After the introduction, staff participated in a ‘hands on’ session, demonstrating their new found knowledge.

ERA wishes to thank Hunt Heritage for providing this unique learning opportunity.

Gemini House exceeds expectations

turret

Recent data shows that Gemini House, a green retrofit of an 1880s Second-Empire home, is a real success, with energy savings up to 72% reduced from current Ontario standards. For this project, ERA collaborated with University of Toronto and Ryerson University to transform a poorly performing heritage home into a model for sustainable design. The project challenges a common misconception that heritage architecture and sustainable design do not mix.­ Continue reading…

Heritage Masonry with Dr. Gerard Lynch, May 13 to 22

Masons, heritage professionals, architects, historians, and all interested parties: We invite you to join us for a new installment of Dr. Gerard Lynch’s extraordinary courses in brickwork, May 13 to 22 at Evergreen Brickworks, Toronto.

Learn from scholar and master mason Gerard Lynch about traditional limes and mortars, traditional binders, historical forms of pointing and jointing, causes of failure in brickwork, and all manner of detail in the mason’s art.

Update: We will also be joined May 20 to 22 by master mason Terry Mullarkey of J. Mullarkey & Sons Stonemasons, one of the top marble and stone masonry restoration companies in the world.

Continue reading…

Ghost wall: casting a heritage façade in concrete

Holt Renfrew 1912 web

As part of the development of the Bay Adelaide Centre East Tower, ERA is working with KPMB, Adamson Associates, and Brookfield Properties to conserve and refurbish two facades of an impressive four-storey masonry building constructed in 1850 and heavily renovated in 1910. Part of the interpretation of the history of this site involves making moulds from the heritage masonry and recasting these in concrete to construct additional sections of façade. Continue reading…

The Red Mason

Recently, as part of ERA’s ongoing interest in preserving and applying traditional building crafts, we were happy to be involved in heritage masonry workshops led by Dr. Gerard Lynch. Dr. Lynch is an internationally acclaimed historic brickwork consultant, master bricklayer, educator, and author.  He is considered the world’s leading authority of gauged brickwork, and affectionately known by the historic term “The Red Mason.” Continue reading…

Conference in Charleston

Recently Andrew Pruss and Jan Kubanek traveled to Charleston, South Carolina to attend the Association for Preservation Technology International Conference, 2012.

Jan Kubanek presented on Sharon Temple, a fascinating project ERA has had the opportunity to work on for several years. Jan’s presentation focused on the importance of working collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team. In this project, ERA was able to make the best use of our multi-disciplinary team’s combined expertise in traditional construction carpentry and wood conservation. The team included a structural engineer specializing in heritage preservation and a carpenter with extensive experience at the Temple site. Continue reading…

Polychrome brickwork

Following up with more masonry-related topics in honour of an upcoming visit by our friend Gerard Lynch, today’s post is on a distinctive masonry tradition used internationally: polychrome brickwork, the use of usually two, but sometimes three, colours of brick, generally red with buff accents (but the opposite in the image above). Continue reading…

Heritage Masonry with Gerard Lynch

Oct. 23 to 31 – various one- and two-day courses.

Masons, heritage professionals, architects, historians, and all interested parties are invited to join us for a series of very special courses in brickwork. Learn from scholar and master mason Gerard Lynch about traditional limes and mortars, traditional binders, historical forms of pointing and jointing, causes of failure in brickwork, and all manner of rich detail in the mason’s art.

Continue reading…

Tuckpointing: a note on detail

This month we are posting on a few masonry-related topics in honour of an upcoming visit by our friend Gerard Lynch, who is leading heritage masonry workshops at Evergreen Brickworks, from October 23 to 31. Today’s post is on an ingenious but little-known art called tuckpointing. The term tuckpointing is often used today as a synonym for repointing, the replacement of old mortar in brickwork. But historically, this term in fact refers to a less common subtlety of the mason’s practice. Continue reading…

Heritage masonry courses with Gerard Lynch

Oct. 23 to 31 – various one- and two-day courses.

Masons, heritage professionals, architects, historians, and all interested parties are invited to join us for a series of very special courses in brickwork. Learn from scholar and master mason Gerard Lynch about traditional limes and mortars, traditional binders, historical forms of pointing and jointing, causes of failure in brickwork, and all manner of rich detail in the mason’s art. Continue reading…

Amendments to Heritage Policies in Toronto’s Official Plan

The City of Toronto has just brought forward draft Official Plan Amendment No. 199 regarding Public Realm and Heritage policies. In May of this year, a staff report recommending the adoption of revised heritage policies was brought forward, and a public open house was scheduled. Prior to the public open house on September 10th, ERA submitted comments to the City outlining our concerns. We are pleased to report that some of our comments have been incorporated into the newly drafted OPA No. 199, but find that some areas could benefit from further revision. Continue reading…

Stone Engravings at Soldiers’ Tower

One of the projects we have been involved with for several years is the ongoing masonry conservation of Soldiers’ Tower, a monument built just to the west of University of Toronto’s Hart House. An interesting aspect of the project has been to catalogue and document hundreds of lines of engraved text on several stone faces within and adjacent to the Tower. Continue reading…

Proposed Heritage Policies in the ‘Toronto Official Plan’ Review

As part of the current review of the Toronto Official Plan, new heritage policies have been drafted and presented to City Council for public discussion.

Over the past months, we here at ERA Architects have thoroughly reviewed the proposed municipal heritage policies. We are concerned that a great opportunity may be lost, for three key reasons:

  • The proposed policies primarily address regulatory and process issues rather than goals and objectives,
  • They don’t significantly advance us beyond the status quo, and
  • They show no sense of strategic implementation. Continue reading…

Brickwork course w/ Gerard Lynch: postponed

Postponed until October, we apologize for the inconvenience…

Masons, heritage professionals, architects, historians, and all interested parties are invited to join us for a series of very special courses in brickwork. Learn from scholar and master mason Gerard Lynch about traditional limes and mortars, traditional binders, historical forms of pointing and jointing, causes of failure in brickwork, and all manner of rich detail in the mason’s art. Continue reading…

East Scarborough Storefront: Wood Inventory Part II

As we have mentioned previously on this blog, ERA Architects is collaborating with ArchiTEXT and Sustainable.TO on the exciting Community.Design.Initiative at East Scarborough Storefront. Over the course of an intensive 19-week mentorship semester we worked with community youth on the design of a kitchen garden and patio, a unique green-roof pavilion, a bee and butterfly garden, and a small orchard. Summer and fall 2012 will see further collaboration with the community as we move toward construction of this dynamic new environment.

Continue reading…

Lime Mortars for Traditionally Constructed Brickwork

ERA, in cooperation with Historic Restoration Inc., hosted one- and two-day workshops for Heritage Professionals and Masons, titled Lime Mortars for Traditionally Constructed Brickwork, lead by Dr. Gerard Lynch. The workshops, held at the Evergreen Brick Works, included both theoretical and practical components, and covered such topics as; binders in historic mortar, historic forms of joining and pointing, re-pointing historic brickwork including colour washing, and tuck pointing.

Dr. Lynch is an internationally acclaimed and highly respected historic brickwork consultant, master bricklayer, educator and author.  He is considered the world’s leading authority of gauge brickwork, and affectionately known by the historic term ‘The Red Mason.”

As quoted in a Toronto Star article covering the workshop, Dr. Lynch explained:

“We were taught to work in two worlds,” says Lynch, 56, whose five-year apprenticeship started at age 17. “We had to work reasonably fast to build modern houses and factories, so we could earn our boss money.

“But we were also taught how to do traditional craft skills. I am proud of doing what I can to pass on those skills. I hope that I will be a pebble in a pond that will radiate out.”

A number of ERAers were able to attend the course, and spoke very highly of the inspiring, practical training.

The Red Mason at the Brickworks

ERA Architects, in cooperation with Historic Restoration Inc., is hosting one and two day workshops for Heritage Professionals and Masons, titled Lime Mortars for Traditionally Constructed Brickwork, lead by Dr. Gerard Lynch.

Dr. Lynch is an internationally acclaimed and highly respected historic brickwork consultant, master bricklayer, educator and author, considered the world’s leading authority of gauge brickwork, and affectionately known by the historic term, ‘The Red Mason.’

1 Day Courses for Heritage Professionals will be taking place on Tuesday August 9 OR Wednesday August 10

2 Day Courses for Masons – Please note that we have added another session for Monday August 15th and Tuesday August 16th.

To download the the information sheet, please click here.

We have extended the registration deadline to this Friday August 5th, 2011.

For more information contact Sonya Tytor at 419 963 4497 x 224.