ERA Architects

Toronto the Good

The 2011 Toronto the Good party was a great success! For more details, please visit and stay tuned to our ERA Office Blog for event photos and discussions of the issues raised at the Tower Neighbourhood Renewal symposium.

ERA started the Toronto the Good parties to bring together a broad cross-section of Torontonians who are interested in the city and in city building. We started these parties with Spacing Magazine and [murmur], and they have continued to be involved each year. Other partners have included Heritage Toronto, the Carpenters Union, the Toronto Society of Architects, the Distillery District, Harbourfront Centre, and Cities Centre.

The first Toronto the Good took place at the Distillery District, but there was one at Fort York, when the Mayor shot off a cannon. The 2011 invasion of Hart House was a new venture to celebrate the University of Toronto’s urban research centre.

Fogel Residence

Inspired by this photograph of Irving Grossman’s Fogel Residence on TOBuilt, we went to the library and dug up a bit more information about this now-demolished modernist gem.  Built in North York, Ontario, and completed in 1959, the Fogel Residence was a finalist for the Massey Medals in Architecture in 1961.  Scanned photocopies from the August 1960 issue of Canadian Architect are presented below.

Continue reading…

Transport-related energy consumption

Edwin found this telling little graph in a supplement to Topos magazine.  It clearly illustrates, using a range of international examples, how per-capita transport-related energy consumption reduces with increasing population densities. Interesting with reference to our previous studies on visualizing density, and with the on-going uncertainty surrounding the future of Transit City. The illustration accompanies an article by Udo Weilacher, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Industrial Landscapes at Technische Universitat Munchen titled Landscape must become the law – again.

Of the ‘descriptive coloured dots describing trends’ theme, this excerpt from the documentary The Joy of Stats, presented by Hans Rosling, is incredibly effective. The full, hour-long documentary is equally fascinating.

Fairfield and DuBois

Fairfield and DuBois are the third firm profiled in our series on Toronto’s Modernist Architects. Below is an excerpt from North York’s Modernist Architecture Revisited, augmented with photographs featured in Concrete Toronto.

Robert Fairfield graduated from the University of Toronto in 1943 with a Bachelor of Architecture, where he was awarded the Toronto Architectural Guild Medal. He commenced private practice in 1954, and his design for the Stratford Festival Theatre was awarded the Massey Gold Medal in 1958.

Stratford Festival Theater, 1957. Images via Carthalia

Macy DuBois was born in Baltimore, Maryland on December 20, 1929, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering at Tufts University in 1951 and his Master of Architecture at Harvard in 1957. He immigrated to Canada in 1958, after placing as a finalist in the new Toronto City Hall competition. DuBois worked in the office of John B. Parkin from 1958, moved to Rounthwaite & Fairfield in 1959, followed by Robert Fairfield Associates in 1960, and finally partnered with Robert Fairfield to form Fairfield & DuBois in 1963.

Central Technical School Art Centre, 1962

Robert Fairfield and Macy DuBois, both in partnership and alone, were responsible for a number of significant projects in Toronto and southern Ontario, including New College at the University of Toronto and the Massey Medal finalist Central Technical School Art Centre.

New College at the University of Toronto, 1969

Robert Fairfield won awards of excellence from the Ontario Association of Architects, and designed buildings across North American, including theatres in New York and Alberta, and university buildings at Trent, Toronto, and Lakehead University.  He died in 1994.

Macy DuBois founded DuBois, Plumb and Associates in 1975 with his second wife, Helga Plumb. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Architectural Institute of America, a member and past president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, member and past chairman of the Ontario Association of Architects, a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, and a recipient of the 1983 Governor General’s Medal in Architecture.  He died on November 9, 2007.

Oxford University Press, 1964 (Demolished)

North York’s Modernist Favorites, Volume Three.

In compiling the revised inventory for the North York’s Modernist Architecture Revisited publication, ERA staff traveled to each site and photographed the current condition of the building. Through this process a number of projects stood out and became quiet favorites, and over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting a few of these under-appreciated, little-known buildings. These structures represent an undiscovered trove of modernist treasures in Toronto, which we drive, walk, or bike past everyday.

The Betel Residence, 1953.
Architect: Irving Grossman.

Project description from the original 1997 version of North York’s Modernist Architecture.


entry pond.

looking to the back-yard.

looking back to the front entry.

Jack Klein and Henry Sears

Over the next few weeks, the E.R.A. Office Blog will be presenting a series of biographies of Toronto’s modernist architects. The second in this series are Jack Klein and Henry Sears, who built many housing projects in the former Municipality of North York, and yet very little is known about them. Below is an excerpt from North York’s Modernist Architecture Revisited.

Don Valley Woods, 1961-1967

Toronto architects Jack Klein and Henry Sears focused on affordable, contemporary residential dwellings. They produced publications on housing theory and built a wide variety of both functional and experimental projects, including modernist row housing, apartment buildings and private homes.  Their firm opened in 1958 – on the same day as Raymond Moriyama’s practice, with whom they shared a three room studio in Yorkville.

Klein and Sears were most concerned with the quality of built environment in which we live; row housing of the time was slum-like and ill-considered, and suburban housing was becoming too expensive for the average homeowner. The firm authored many publications on these topics, including the Core Area housing study for the City of Toronto, Urban Renewal with Eric Ross Arthur, and Room to Learn: A Study on Housing for the Canadian Student.

Whitburn Apartments – Jack Klein and Henry Sears, with Jerome Markson, 1961

They also designed many significant multi-unit row housing projects including Oakdale Manor and Yorkwoods Village, as well as parts of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood in Toronto, for which they were awarded the OAA award for Excellence in Residential Design. Sears and Klein were awarded a Massey Medal for the Don Valley Woods project, and completed a number of notable private residences at 54 Blue Forest Drive, 16 and 18 Bitteroot Drive, and 17 Beaver Valley Road.

Henry Sears was inducted into the RAIC College of Fellows in 1971. He died in 2003, and Jack Klein died shortly thereafter, in 2005.

Don Valley Woods, 1961-1967

The Don Valley Woods project is in the process of being rezoned, and all of the buildings on site are threatened with demolition.

Peter Dickinson

The O’Keefe Centre for Performing Arts, 1960.

In the vein of raising awareness for Toronto’s modernist legacy, BlogTO has a good little feature on Peter Dickinson (1925-1961) inspired by the recent monograph authoured by John Martins-Manteiga and published by Dominion Modern.  Born in England and educated at the AA, Dickinson immigrated to Canada in 1950.  He immediately began working with Page & Steele Architects, and after only three years was promoted to partner-in-charge of design.  “Dickinson was like an atomic bomb”, fellow architect and former associate Rob Robbie later recalled.  In 1958 Dickinson left Page & Steele to establish his own firm, and enjoyed an incredibly prodigious output before succumbing to cancer at the young age of 35.  Check out the article for some great images, and pick up the book to learn more about just how influential Dickinson was in shaping our modern city.

Spread from ‘Peter Dickinson‘, published by Dominion Modern, showing the lobby of the O’Keefe Centre and a number of Dickinson’s early sketches from 1957.

Top photograph from the City of Toronto Archives.
Fonds 1257, f1257_s1057_it0815.