ERA Architects

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.

On mapping

With any exercise in mapping there are a whole series of interesting Borges-like adventures that reveal themselves.  There is the story or stories the map-writer wishes to tell, but to the map-reader there are countless other stories which may appear as unpredictable discoveries beyond the intentional.

As a child, playing the game of ‘connect the dots’ is an early exploration in map reading.   One carefully draws the lines from dot to dot until the little rhinoceros reveals itself, and there is a moment of discovery, recognition and pleasure.   With every map this same moment of discovery lies in wait – and the more complex the map, the greater the pleasure there is in reading it.

In reading any map there are the representational issues between the map and the place on the ground; the real place to which the map corresponds.   The map is a selective recording of some specific data.  The reader must connect the dots between the data, and find the correspondence that tells her more about that place.  Beyond the simplest of storylines the reader’s own experience and knowledge of the place and knowledge of the data can provide a rich, nuanced, synergistic reading.

A map can also be like an architectural drawing – which is a series of visual instructions, or a map for action – in that it can be a delineation of something that does not yet exist.  And in this case, can the reader visualize the impact and understand the potential should this mapped fictional place slip into the real world?

Mapping of places is an act of the imagination, both for the map-maker and the map-reader.  Wellbeing Toronto presents new and different data from what we have seen before and has the potential to reveal patterns of the city that had previously been unreadable.  With this mapping tool the City of Toronto are opening up room for discussion leading to multiple readings, multiple interpretations, and the potential for action.

The image above overlays the 1894 and 2010 built-form maps of Toronto, produced by ERA.

Wellbeing Toronto

The City of Toronto has just launched ‘Wellbeing Toronto‘, which, in their own words, is:

a new web-based measurement and visualization tool that helps evaluate community wellbeing across the city’s 140 neighbourhoods. Using geographic information software, Wellbeing Toronto allows you to select, combine and weight the significance of a number of indicators that monitor neighbourhood wellness. The results appear instantly on easy to read maps, tables and graphs. This free tool supports decision making and seeks to engage citizens and businesses in understanding the challenges and opportunities of creating and maintaining healthy neighbourhoods.

What an incredibly powerful tool. The City should be roundly and loudly celebrated for making this data available, which will allow residents to draw powerful associations and build convincing arguments for targeted change.