ERA Architects


York University, 1960s.

York University was established in 1959, with the first classes held in Falconer Hall at the University of Toronto.  In 1962, after the province gave the university approximately 600 acres of land at the northern edge of the city, UPACE (University Planners, Architects and Consulting Engineers) was formed and commissioned to prepare a master plan for the new institution.

A model of the 1962 Master Plan for York University.

The UPACE team was led by three architects from three prominent Canadian firms: John H. Bonnick of Gordon S. Adamson & Associates; William N. Greer of Shore & Moffat and Partners, and John C. Parkin of the office of John B. Parkin Associates, Architects and Engineers. These three men prepared the master plan for the new campus, with Hideo Sasaki of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University acting as a consultant.

Clockwise from Top Left; McLaughlin College Common Room, Vanier College, Winter’s College Dining Room, Winter’s College.

UPACE also prepared a set of design guidelines that would direct future development, and ensure a consistent, coherent campus. These directives are best expressed in some of the numerous buildings designed by UPACE on the campus, such as Farquarson Life Sciences, Scott Library, Tait McKenzie Physical Education, Stedman Lecture Halls/Lecture Hall One, Behavioural Sciences, Petrie Sciences, the Ross Building, Vanier and Winters Colleges, as well as McLaughlin College – for which they were finalists for the 1970 Massey Medal.

Left to Right; Scott Library interior atrium, Scott Library exterior.

York University has recognized its heritage as a modernist institution, and all of the buildings designed under the direction of the initial master plan have been listed on the Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties.

Top; Ross Building model, Bottom; Ross Building today.

The Suburbs

Above: 32 Saintfield Road by Jerome Markson, 1961

In the 1950s and 60s, Toronto’s Bridle Path was not just an enclave of faux-châteaux, but an architectural hotbed for Toronto’s young modernists looking to execute designs for clients with large lots, and large budgets. Continue reading…

Yonge Street

Michael is currently featured on the Yonge Street website, where he discusses postwar Toronto architecture.

Usually, even when people like a building, that initial appreciation declines and it continues to fall for several decades. After 40 years, it hits an all-time low. But if a building can survive past that 40-year period, then there will be a renewed appreciation of the building. Take Old City Hall. Today people think it’s a wonderful Romanesque building but in the 1940s, they said it was fussy and overdone. Our purpose in addressing these concrete buildings is to examine whether that pattern of evolving tastes meant people were dismissing some architectural jewels. Not all these buildings are beautiful or interesting. But we really wanted people to look more closely before jumping to that conclusion.

Read the full interview here.

Gander International Airport Lounge

Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe were broadcasting from Gander, Newfoundland this weekend, and opened the show with a description of the International Lounge at Gander International airport.  Once an essential stop-over for refueling planes traveling from New York to London, the Lounge has been almost magically frozen in time. A 2005 New York Times article on the lounge describes it best:

With the advent of jet fuel, stopovers became unnecessary; in the 1960’s, traffic slowed to a trickle. (These days, traveling to Gander, population 9,650, is itself like going back in time; Air Canada only flies there on tiny twin-turboprop planes.) Perfectly preserved, the terminal is a time capsule from the heady days when travel was exotic and airports were beacons of the future. ”It’s still one of the most beautiful, most important Modernist rooms in the country, if not the most important,” says Alan C. Elder, the curator of the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Flickr images by Zach Bonnell

The new Standard

Graeme is featured on the cover of the brand new Toronto Standard online daily news portal, with an extensive interview covering the Tower Neighbourhood Renewal initiative.

This is a 20-year project. We’re talking about a huge number of buildings, hundreds of neighbourhoods and over a million [residents]. It’s about a gradual process of improvement. For now, it’s working in specific communities with different landowners, asking whether we can take down some fences, rezone for mixed use, introduce some modest demonstration projects regarding community development and building upgrade. Then we can make these new ideas viral, the new status quo. Over the long term, this can provide real opportunities for a more sustainable and livable city-region.

These buildings aren´t going anywhere, but the longer we wait, the more difficult the challenge. It’s time to get going.

Read the full interview here, titled ‘Reinventing Suburbia‘.  Half newspaper and half blog, the Standard is beautiful to look at, and is a welcome voice in the ongoing local discourse.

ERA and the Goethe-Institut

Ecology.Design.Synergy Presentation & Discussion

Reclaiming the City: The Architect/Planner as Eco-Urbanist
Stephan Lanz in conversation with Graeme Stewart

The series “Ecology.Design.Synergy: Green Architecture and New Ideas from Germany and Canada“ is presented by the Goethe-Institut Toronto in cooperation with OCAD University and the MaRS Centre.

At the presentation this evening, Graeme will be discussing on-going international research and local applications of Tower Neighbourhood Renewal. For more information, visit Geothe-Institut Toronto.

April 7, 2011. 6pm
OCAD University, Auditorium, Room 190,
100 McCaul Street, Toronto, ON
Admission free
+1 416 593 5257 x 205

Graeme and Stephan Lanz at Goethe Institute event at OCAD, April 7th, 2011