ERA Architects

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.