ERA Architects

Temporary, but Impactful: Michael McClelland Discusses New Creative Project Initiatives at The Drake Hotel

NXT City and Pavilion Project are teaming up to present ‘Short Term, Lasting Impact’, a panel discussion about the value of temporary projects at The Drake Hotel Underground.

The event takes place on the evening of March 23rd, and features STACKT founder Matt Rubinoff, Layne Hinton + Rui Pimenta from in/future and Michael McClelland from ERA Architects + the Portlands Project.

Be part of the conversation animating Toronto’s public spaces!

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.

Sabina Ali & Graeme Stewart Speak to ‘Modern Tower Blocks and the 21st Century City’

Harlyn Thompson Lecture Series – Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba
Thursday, March 16, 2017
6PM Lecture
Eckhardt Gramatte Hall
University of Winnipeg

Sabina Ali – Chair, Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee
Graeme Stewart – Principal, ERA Architects, Co-Founder/Board Member, Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R) and Co-Editor, Concrete Toronto: A Guidebook to Concrete Architecture from the Fifties to the Seventies

Graeme Stewart and Sabina Ali will introduce the case of Toronto’s built legacy: upwards of 2,000 modernist tower blocks that define its urban landscape. Hidden in plain sight on the political radar for decades, they have experienced an extended period of neglect, however a season of change has recently emerged.

‘Tower Renewal’ sprang forth as a resolution to engage policy-makers and members of the public through research, development and calls-to-action. It shone a light on the under-estimation of the importance of these towers as vast, vertical communities whose social and structural preservation are imperative in meeting the challenges of the city’s demand for greater density and enhanced quality of life amid dwindling resources.

Toronto’s Tower block urbanism is ubiquitous, complex and contentious in nature for its physical and cultural landscape. Conservation solutions refuse to be pigeonholed, requiring a multifaceted and customized approach. The Tower Renewal initiative is nimble and dynamic in approach, successfully and sensitively addressing each project as separate and unique.

Promotional poster

Photo credit: Chloë Ellingson

ERA Contributes to the 2017 AIAS Quad Conference Through Tours of the Firm’s Office and The Distillery District

As host of the 2017 American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Quad Conference, Ryerson University reached out to ERA Architects to host a tour of the firm’s offices and to conduct a tour of The Distillery District on March 10th & 11th respectively. Ryerson’s vision for the event was in inspiring and educating students on new perspectives of architecture introduced through diversity and globalization.

For ERA’s part, a tour of the office functioned as a circuit between 4 separate environments on 2 floors of 10 St. Mary Street. Staff led 3 groups for 1½ hours through discussions on office environment features/layout, programming, team dynamics/disciplines, overarching themes, major/special projects, software/technology and the material library/plotter. The tour culminated in a small ½ hour reception and closing remarks by Michael McClelland.

The following day, in frigid weather, the group toured the award-winning heritage conservation and adaptive re-use project: The Distillery District. The tour was led by ERA Principals Michael McClelland and Andrew Pruss and ran from 2:30 – 4:00pm. They focused on the following themes: Historic Architecture & Urban Form, Adaptive Reuse & Occupancy, and the Contemporary Layer of New Construction as applied to Trinity Street, the Windmill site, Stone Distillery, the Tank/Boiler House and the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

The two tours made a positive impression on the students, many of whom had never been to Toronto and hoped to extend their trip and/or return to the city in the future.

Women in Architecture: A Seminar Presented by Building Equity in Architecture, Toronto (BEAT)

Last Saturday, March 4th, as part of its third annual seminar, BEAT featured ERA Project Manager Amy Norris as part of a program of female architects, landscape architects, and interior designers based in Toronto. The panel spoke to students, recent graduates and young practitioners about their professional experiences working in and establishing design practices in Toronto in industries that presents both challenges and opportunities for women. Amy also presented information about newly established groups within the OAA and RAIC that focus on issues of interest to emerging practitioners in the design industries. The panel was made up of sole practitioners, partners in design firms and academics. The event took place at The Gladstone Hotel’s North Ballroom.

The event was scheduled as a prelude to International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8th. Given the findings of recent surveys that show a decrease in the percentage of women who study architecture versus those who are currently practicing, and the number of firm partners and principals who are women, the seminar’s mandate was: 1. To provide insight into the professional histories of leading female design practitioners, and 2. To promote mentorship of the current cohort of women transitioning into the profession through introductions and networking opportunities. Underlying these goals is the understanding that people need to see themselves reflected in the leadership of their chosen profession in order to garner a sense of acceptance and the possibility for success for their future careers.

Kate Fox-Whyte, Principal, Foxwhyte Landscape Architecture
Irene Gardpoit, Director and Principal Architect, Uufie
Pat Hanson, Principal, gH3
Marianne McKenna, Founding Partner, KPMB
Lola Sheppard, Associate Professor, Waterloo Architecture and Co-Founder, Lateral Office

Special Presentation
Amy Norris, Project Manager, ERA and member of the OAA Intern Committee and RAIC Emerging Practitioners Steering Committee.

Betsy Williamson, Partner, Williamson Williamson Inc. and BEAT Advisory Committee Member


ERA’s Big Day Out: We’re Launching Our 1st Annual Firm-wide Conference on March 3rd, 2017

ERA will be ‘out of office’  on March 3rd, as we attend our first annual conference, offering a range of opportunities to congregate and mingle as a full office! Follow the day’s proceedings – #eracon17.

The following is an abridged agenda:  

9:45 – KEYNOTE SPEAKER ­ Antonella Ceddia, Litigation Lawyer, City of Toronto

–   o r i g i n s   –

10:30 – WHAT DOES ERA DO? Michael McClelland
Tour 1: Queen West Triangle – A Planning Novella
Tour 2: West-to-West Queen West! – An Architectural Meander
Tour 3: What is a ‘CAMH’ anyway?
Tour 4: Legal Non-conforming Transcendence on Dovercourt

–   o u r   c u r r e n t   p r a c t i c e   –

Workshop 1.1: How To Read Drawings – for non-architects
Workshop 1.2: Informing Design Through Value Added Collaboration
Workshop 1.3: Ethics And Practice: Choosing Projects / ERA’s Evolving Role As City Builders / Agents Of Civic Values
Workshop 1.4: Best Practices in Architectural Drawings and Detailing
Workshop 1.5: Conservation Process: Theory And Practice
Workshop 1.6: Design Studio: Fundamentals Of House Planning

–   f u t u r e   d i r e c t i o n s   a n d   g r o w t h   –

Workshop 2.1: Mentorship – Best Practices /Accreditation
Workshop 2.2: Communicating in a Growing Office
Workshop 2.3: ERA Initiatives – Impact and New Practice Areas
Workshop 2.4: Outsider Advice – Applying Our Methodology Outside The GTA
Workshop 2.5: Emerging Practice Area: New Technologies in Conservation
Workshop 2.6: Rethinking Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs)
Workshop 2.7: Emerging Practice Area: Reimagining our Modern Legacy, Conservation and Transformation
Workshop 2.8: The Land We Work On


Evergreen Brick Works Demonstrates How Revived Heritage Spaces Create Sustainable Cities

The 53,000-square-foot kiln building at Evergreen Brick Works is set for a conversion that will create a collaboration zone to aid in building sustainable cities, with a target of developing systems and technologies for reducing carbon emissions. To set the standard, project partners EllisDon, Brookfield Global Integrated Systems, CRH Canada, Levitt Goodman Associates Architectural Partners and ERA Architects will strive to attain a carbon neutral design target for the site, a first in Canada. Once completed, the doors will be open to citizens, the public/private sectors and thought leaders to contribute to the initiative.

The heritage adaptive design approach was created in consultation with the City of Toronto’s Preservation Services, Ontario Heritage Trust and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to support the preservation of heritage features in the building. ERA was directly involved in the conservation of the unconditioned kiln building, one of 16 historically significant buildings on the campus of Evergreen Brick Works. This structure houses a large collection of industrial brick firing kilns that are currently subject to flooding and freeze-thaw cycles. Enclosing the open west wall of the building, raising the floor, and conditioning the building will be a significant contribution to stabilize these artefacts, while continuing to highlight the heritage aspects of the historic space.

The Brick Works have become a notable destination for locals and tourists alike, drawn to the consistently eco-friendly programming housed within the walls of its LEED platinum-certified building. It will be a gathering place for interactive workshops and community programs that focus on working collaboratively, and will strengthen networks, inspiring action through new and enhanced gallery and meeting spaces. This latest endeavour will catalyze advancements in renewable energy technologies, while preserving the heritage features.

Congratulations to the ERA project team: Philip Evans, Shelley Ludman and Eunice Lam!

To review the Canadian Architect-published press release, click here.
To review the related Globe and Mail article by Alex Bozikovic, click here.
To review the Blog TO article by Amy Grief, click here.

Feature rendering courtesy of LGA Architects.
Photos courtesy of ERA Architects.