ERA Architects

Toronto Densities Map now available for download

Developed for ERA’s People Per Hectare installation at Harbourfront last fall, this gigantic map compares densities across a sample of Toronto neighbourhoods.  Using familiar local examples, it was developed to illustrate the very abstract concept of a quantitative density value – and to question what exactly that value might tell us about neighbourhood livability.  Copies of the map have been in constant demand by visitors to both the exhibition and to our offices, where it has found a permanent home.

Now you too can download the map and print your very own copy – in either 3″x6″ postcard, 11″x17″ tabloid, or 36″x18″ poster size.

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.

The future of Ontario Place

Mark Medley had a piece in the Saturday Post exploring the future of Ontario Place. He quotes a number of local practitioners, including ERA’s Michael McClelland.

Perhaps we should revisit the past when deciding the future. Michael McClelland of E.R.A. Architects thinks we should look at Zeidler’s original blueprint.

“My hope would be that they’d reinvest in the original ideas,” he says, “and figure out how to improve them, rather then go, ‘That’s all crap; we’re going to take it all away.’ ”

McClelland also points to Zeidler’s unbuilt Harbour City project, which would have created a neighbourhood of 60,000 people on what is now the Toronto Island Airport; [project spokesperson Hugh] Mansfield says plans that include residential elements will not be dismissed.

Read the full article ‘Once a gem, now generally forgotten, what could the future hold for Ontario Place?

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.

Marble Madness

[Unfortunately, not this kind of Marble Madness]

A number of ERAers got together to do a group order of reclaimed Carrara marble from First Canadian Place.  All 45,000 2′ x 4′ marble panels are currently being removed from the tower, and will soon be replaced by larger glass panels.  A slick animation of the process is available here.  The reclaimed marble is available for public purchase, with a minimum order of 30 pieces.

We look forward to seeing what everyone does with their new/old marble; expect coffee tables and counter-tops galore.  Hopefully Toronto is soon awash in re-used Carrara marble.  A few words of warning for anyone else looking to get in on the fun: the batch delivery process was convoluted and involved many delays, the individual slabs were a real challenge to move once delivered (each weighing +200lbs, depending upon varying thicknesses), and the chipped, soiled, and broken condition of many of the slabs limit their re-use potential – though with a bit of effort it’s a unique opportunity to get to work with high-grade locally-sourced recycled material at an extreme bargain price.

Prince Edward County office

ERA Architects are proud to announce the opening of their Prince Edward County office located in beautiful Picton.

Lindsay Reid and Scott Bailey will be working from this location.

Prince Edward County

ERA Architects are proud to announce the opening of their Prince Edward County office, located in beautiful Picton. (The above photo is not the office, but the barn! Yes, the office has a barn. A wonderful old barn.)

Architects Lindsay Reid and Scott Bailey will be working from this location. Lindsay is a licensed architect with more than ten years of experience in the field of heritage conservation. She has a special interest in the conservation of our cultural institutions as well as the protection and appreciation of our modern heritage. As a LEED accredited professional she revisits traditional methods and technologies as a means to inform sustainable solutions.

Scott is a licensed architect with more than ten years experience in all stages of building analysis, planning, design, contract documentation, field review and project administration for renovation projects and new buildings. He has worked on projects in both the private and public sectors, often working to marry historic buildings with new construction.

Currently the PEC office are researching the restoration of a number of local historic trains, including the H.C.W. Steam Train in Wakefield, Quebec, and the Spirit of Sir John A Train in Kingston.


ERA celebrated the season with our annual BBQ yesterday. Andrew generously provided his back yard for the festivities, which lasted well into the evening.  The weather was sweltering, the huge spread of food was delicious, many refreshing beverages were imbibed, and nothing was broken. All and all, a great success.

Narrow Streets

David Yoon has produced a series of retouched photographs illustrating how streets in LA would look and feel at imaginary, narrower widths. One might also think of them as a very effective demonstration of urban priorities – the built reality of the North American prioritization of the automobile versus human-scale livability. See more at his blog.

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.

Open Doors for Doors Open

Gallery 1313 in Parkdale is hosting an architecturally-themed exhibition to tie in with this year’s Doors Open festival.  The show is curated by Toronto Star urban issues and architecture correspondent Christopher Hume.  In the gallery’s own words;

this exhibition gives artists a unique opportunity to explore the influences of local architecture in their artistic practice. The exhibition pays homage to [Doors Open] and allows the public an opportunity to make a further connection with city architecture by viewing the creative process that has inspired these artists.

ERA’s William MacIvor will have a few pieces on show, including collage-based adaptive reuse studies of the oft-neglected R.L. Hearn Generating Station. Be sure and drop in while you’re out exploring the built environment this weekend.

Open Doors
An Exhibition Inspired by Doors Open
May 26th – June 9th 2010
Reception May 27th 6:30-10pm

Gallery 1313
1313 Queen St. West
Gallery Hours Wed – Sun 1-6pm

Above graphic by ERA Architects.

National Urban Design Awards

The Tower Renewal Opportunities Book was awarded a Special Jury Award in the 2010 National Urban Design Awards, presented by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. Congratulations to the project team including ERA Architects Inc., the John H. Daniels faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto, and the City of Toronto.

For more information, visit: 2010 National Urban Design Awards

Toronto the Good invades Harbourfront Centre!

ERA is hosting its annual Toronto the Good party with Spacing Magazine, the Toronto Society of Architects, Ben McNally Books, and David Vallee.

The evening will be filled with events including access to all the exhibitions, gallery and building tours and talks, announcement of the TSA poster design competition winner, Harbourfront’s AUTHORS reading series, book signings, music, video installations, food and refreshments and more!

Wednesday May 26, 2010

Doors Open 6pm
Free Admission to the Party
Catered Event with Cash Bar

York Quay Centre at
Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay West

For details and itinerary for the night, please visit:

Toronto the Good Invades Harbourfront Centre! – ERA Office Blog

Toronto the Good –

Toronto the Good 2010

ERA is hosting its annual Toronto the Good party with Spacing Magazine, the Toronto Society of Architects, the National Film Board, Ben McNally books, and David Vallee.

The Toronto the Good 2010 party will be held concurrently with the Authors at Harbourfront series, that includes presentations from:

Margaret and Phil Goodfellow
A Guidebook to Contemporary Modern Architecture in Toronto

Shawn Micallef
Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto

NFB Filmmaker-in-residence Katerina Cizek
The Thousandth Tower web documentary

Wednesday May 26, 2010 _ 6pm to midnight

free admission to the party _ catering by David Vallee _ cash bar

York Quay Centre at
Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay West

For more information please visit:

Save the date – further details to follow!

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.