ERA Architects

In-House Experts: Heritage Mortars 101 & Heritage Interiors

Although there is obvious benefit to be drawn from the synergy created from ‘the whole’, we would be remiss if we did not recognize and highlight the individual expertise that makes up the sum of ERA’s parts. Staff have been treated to two presentations recently that featured their peers introducing topics for which they possess expertise through weekly ongoing information session series.

First up, ERA Associate Jessie Grebenc gave a talk on ‘Heritage Mortars 101’ as part of the Wednesday Design Forum series. The presentation led in with the philosophical decision-making process required to conserve a building. More thoroughly, it defined mortar, its components, uses and evolution, how to determine its age based on set analytical criteria and the related issues/challenges that arise under various circumstances (such as Canadian vs. European material, manufacturing and climactic contexts). The presentation was intended to give staff a solid foundation on the topic, discuss best practices from the North American and British contexts, and review the options available given the multiple factors surrounding the project.

ERA Associate Jan Kubanek and Project Manager Sydney Martin presented on the topic of ‘Heritage Interiors’, highlighting the project work completed to date on the Government Conference Centre (GCC) in Ottawa and a review of the topics presented at the Architectural Paint Research Conference in New York City that they attended in the spring.

Jan provided an overview of the GCC Rehabilitation Project currently underway that is transforming the former Ottawa Union Station into an Interior Senate facility, a project on which ERA is the heritage conservation architect working with Diamond Schmitt/KWC Architects in Joint Venture. The Beaux-Arts interiors are characterized by a formal procession route taking the visitor through the Rideau Entrance Lobby, down a grand stair into the General Waiting Room, through the Ticketing Block Anteroom and into the Concourse.

Finishes include marble floors and wall paneling, imitation travertine wall finishes (a patented process involving the application of tinted plaster with a texture characteristic of travertine laid in ashlar coursing, elaborate plaster ceilings and suspended plaster ceilings in the two large spaces.  The rehabilitation project, through careful paint and material analysis, allowed the revealing of the original colour and material palette of the building that had been concealed over time.

Sydney Presented on aspects of paint technology, assessment and methodology and how they apply to ERA’s work on the GCC.  Due to the condition of the original faux travertine plaster walls (scagliola) and the extreme difficulty of using the original plaster technique for repairs it was decided to replicate the original appearance of the tinted plaster faux travertine with paint and provide a unified appearance. Her presentation focused on the development of the paint technique and colour selection for the imitation travertine surfaces that honour the original design intent. The colours for the faux travertine were derived from analysis of the original tinted plaster.  The painted technique was meticulously tested on mock surfaces and under various lighting to emulate the original faux travertine surfaces in the building.

She then shared details of her experience at the conference, including a presentation by a Painting Conservator/Consultant, and a tour of Ellis Island featuring installations by French artist JR entitled ‘Unframed’ that added a layer of heritage interpretation to the abandoned spaces as a reminder of their purpose as an entry point to America for millions of immigrants.

All photography courtesy of ERA Architects.
All historic images accredited to the Library and Archives Canada.
All renderings accredited to DSA-KWC Architects in Joint Venture.

 

Eva’s Phoenix wins a Canadian Brownfields Network (Brownie) Award and signals a transformational start to the redevelopment of the Water Works

Both the Broadview Hotel and Eva’s Phoenix were named as finalists for the REBUILD category of the 2017 Brownie Awards, a program of the Canadian Brownfields Network established to promote projects and programs arising from the brownfield community. The REBULD category in particular recognizes ‘excellence in site-specific responses to public policy initiatives that accelerate the pace of regeneration resulting from development’, promote an enhanced public realm and successfully reimagine the adaptive reuse of heritage structures that promote increased health and well-being.

Eva’s Phoenix, located at 60 Brant Street (at the corner of Richmond Street), took home top honours. ERA’s role was of heritage consultant, supporting the work of lead architect LGA Architectural Partners. The scope of work included the photographic documentation of the property; conducting background research on the history of the property and its context, sourcing archival photographs and context maps; determining the impact of the proposed development on the existing heritage fabric; and preparing the Heritage Impact Assessment report, including a Statement of Cultural Heritage Value. The project team was comprised of Michael McClelland and Sydney Martin.

The site was once home to Toronto’s Water Works building, a heritage-designated property that was the site of the St. Andrew’s market from the 1830’s until 1860, when it was destroyed by fire. After an 1873 rebuild, the activity in the market began to decline, forcing it to close in the early 1900’s. The building that stands today was built in the Art Deco-style of architecture in 1932, designed by then City Architect J.J. Woolnough. It’s location between the high-density and thriving neighbourhoods of Queen and King Street West presents an exciting opportunity to redevelop the site as a culturally-rich, inclusive and dynamic resource for the local community. ERA has been brought on board as the heritage consultant to review the heritage approach and specify and review the conservation work. The site will eventually include a new YMCA, a public food hall, affordable housing, and a residential condo development tower that sits atop the conserved heritage base. The project team consists of Michael McClelland, Andrew Pruss, Annie Pelletier, Dan Eylon, Annabel Vaughan, Miranda Brunton, Anna Pavia, Diana Roldan and Peter Pantalone.

Brownie Award details: https://canadianbrownfieldsnetwork.ca/brownfield-awards/brownies
Water Works Development details: http://urbantoronto.ca/news/2017/09/work-begins-waterworks-building-heritage-preservation

Photos courtesy of Nathan Cyprys.

‘Big River Landscape’ wins the National Capital Commission’s Nepean Point Redevelopment design competition

Team Rosenberg’s design concept – ‘Big River Landscape’ – has been selected as the winner of a prestigious international design competition that proposes the redevelopment of Nepean Point into an enhanced public park and major destination at the heart of the Capital. The design team is made up of Janet Rosenberg & Studio Inc. with Patkau Architects, Blackwell Structural Engineers, and ERA Architects Inc.

On Thursday, October 5th four shortlisted proposals were presented at the National Capital Commission’s Urbanism Lab, followed by a period of public feedback through the NCC’s website. The winning scheme was announced on November 23rd, 2017.

Taking full advantage of dramatic natural topography, exposure to the elements, and a panoramic vista, ‘Big River Landscape’ envisions Nepean Point as the premier place in the Capital region to immerse the senses in the experience and drama of the Ottawa River valley, an ancient and continuing cultural landscape that is deeply associated with the layered histories that tie all peoples of Canada to this land, and which also defines our evolving identities as we shape our collective future. Envisioned as an inclusive public place, the design seeks to give a voice to various actors and histories, each one connected to Nepean Point in a meaningful way: the land, the river, First Nations, the Parliamentary and Federal landscape of the capital, artists, visitors experiencing the site, and all Canadians.

‘Big River Landscape’ envisions a significant new public destination, contributing to the restoration of the sense of the river as the heart of the National Capital Region within the collective imagination of Canadians. It also proposes important new connections to surrounding open spaces and federal institutions, including the National Gallery of Canada, and Major’s Hill Park.

ERA is thrilled at the chance to continue to collaborate on this important new public space for all peoples.

ERA’s team includes: Michael McClelland, Victoria Angel and Brendan Stewart, and as a sub to ERA: Lisa Prosper Heritage Consultant.

More from theNational Capital Commission on the ‘Big River Landscape’ scheme: http://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/our-projects/nepean-point-redevelopment/big-river-landscape

NCC website announcement: http://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/our-projects/nepean-point-redevelopment

Youtube Video of the NCC Public Board of Directors Meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV_Th_HDRcE – t=01h52m32s

Ottawa Citizen article: http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/nepean-point-winner-announced-milestone-meeting-on-lebreton-flats-expected-january

CBC Coverage: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/nepean-point-redesign-big-river-landscape-redevelopment-1.4415946

Ottawa Start post: https://ottawastart.com/ncc-reveals-proposed-redesign-for-nepean-point/

Renderings courtesy of The Flat Side of Design

Congratulations to Ya’el Santopinto, our new Associate 

As ERA continues to grow and evolve, the Executives and Associates are very pleased to appoint Ya’el Santopinto to our leadership team. Ya’el has demonstrated commitment to our core values of city building, rehabilitation of heritage buildings, and democratic community design, and has used these values to help the firm expand into new areas.

Ya’el is a registered Architect at ERA who specializes in affordable and energy-efficient housing, international housing policy and regulation, and the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings. Ya’el is also the Director of Research and Partnerships with the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal, leading work on Tower Renewal — an initiative to catalyze reinvestment and community building in apartment tower neighbourhoods. Her work includes research, advocacy, and implementation of best-in-class practices in energy retrofit, affordable housing and planning policy, green financing, and social inclusion.

We look forward to this new chapter and the exciting work ahead!

One Spadina Crescent: When All is Finally Revealed…….

ERA has been eagerly anticipating the official opening of One Spadina Crescent, the University of Toronto’s new home for the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. Our collaboration with NADAAA and Adamson Associate Architects has seen the transformation of the historical landmark that is Knox College, conserved and updated with a beautiful new addition. The history, relevance and inspiring new context of the building is captured in an insightful piece in the Globe and Mail by Dave LeBlanc, including a few words from Michael McClelland (see link below).

The site was originally designed as a garden feature for the Baldwin family, who owned the Spadina park lot that extended from Queen Street West to Bloor. In the 1870s, the Presbyterian Church bought the land and commissioned architects James Smith & John Gemmell to build Knox College. Having been adapted over the years to a number of different uses, the structure survives today as a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture, with a heritage designation (designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act on March 17, 1976).

Beginning in 2006, ERA worked with the University of Toronto and advised on heritage issues related to the site’s re-development. Since 2011 ERA has been working closely with prime architects, NADAAA, on the project. Phase 1 included the conservation of the exterior, and Phase II, the new addition extending from the historic building.

As heritage consultant, ERA prepared the Heritage Impact Assessment, Conservation Strategy and Conservation Plan, and provision of heritage architecture services related to the conservation scope of work (exterior and interior) throughout all phases of the project. The project team includes: Michael McClelland, Andrew Pruss, Julie Tyndorf, Alana Young, and Tatum Taylor.

The article reintroduces the heritage building to the public mindset, reinforcing its position as a work of prominent architecture in its own right, as well as a new asset in Toronto’s evolving cultural landscape.

Link to Globe and Mail article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/toronto/an-overlooked-university-of-toronto-gem-brought-back-to-thespotlight/article36984536/

All photos courtesy of John Horner Photography

ACO NextGen presents the possibility of a new take on an historic building

How does one breathe new life into a building that was once grand but has since ‘lost its lustre’?

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario NextGen designers have put out a public call for ideas that will transform Toronto’s landmark bus terminal on Bay Street, culminating in an all-day on-site event on Saturday, November 11th.

The building was designed by architect Charles B. Dolphin, widely known for designing the Consumers Gas building (at 2532 Yonge St. Building), 1931; the Postal Delivery Building, now forming part of the Air Canada Centre (at 50 Bay St), 1941; and TTC Headquarters (1900 Yonge St), 1958. The architectural style is a classic example of Art Deco/Art Moderne, containing notable interior elements for the period, such as Scagliola plaster, streamline staircase, layout and prominent central skylight.

It opened to the public in 1931 for the purposes of serving the customers of the Gray Coach bus line (in operation from 1927-1991). Service providers changed hands after many years of operation. The terminal underwent one major renovation in 1984 to alter the bus bays and a second minor renovation in 1990 to increase the seating capacity of the passenger room. The terminal may potentially be declared surplus, with the development of new bus terminal at 45 Bay Street.

ERA’s Tatum Taylor toured the group through the building and The Ward to provide context for the day. ERA Principal Scott Weir delivered a talk on the building’s architecture and history, followed by an introduction to examples of adaptive reuse projects, such as Loblaws Warehouse, Postal Station K, Massey Tower, Maple Leaf Gardens, Casey House and the Carlu. The event is timely, as talks have been underway at the municipal government level for months, to determine the future of the site. Change is in the air, and possibilities for conserving the building as a landmark destination for both heritage architectural lovers and community dwellers alike abound.

As Scott is quoted as saying, ‘Now is the perfect time to start dreaming….’

Link to Toronto Star article: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/11/09/bay-dundas-bus-terminal-looks-to-recapture-its-sense-of-grandeur.html

Link to NOW magazine article: https://nowtoronto.com/news/toronto-coach-terminal-could-use-some-inspired-ideas/

Photo of original Bus Coach Terminal interior courtesy of City of Toronto Archives.
Photos of current Bus Coach Terminal interior and ACO tour courtesy of ERA Architects.

The RAC Zone is recognized with an Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) Award for Excellence in Planning

The Tower Renewal RAC Zone, a partnership between ERA Architects, the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal, United Way Toronto & York Region, Toronto Public Health and the City of Toronto, has this week been honoured with an OPPI Award of Excellence.

Through research, advocacy, and collaboration, this new zoning framework has been developed and is poised for implementation in hundreds of Toronto’s vertical neighbourhoods, that will remove barriers for a range of exciting small-scale businesses and community services. A City-wide zoning change of this type is a first for Toronto, and would not have been possible without this diverse group of collaborators and stakeholders working together. It is a testament to what is possible through collaboration, and perhaps the start of new way for social agencies, local communities, architects, and the City to work together towards a brighter Toronto.

The OPPI Award for Excellence in Planning – Municipal Statutory Planning Studies, Reports and Documents award ‘recognizes excellence in all aspects of the profession and the high caliber of work by professional planners within communities across the province’, as stated by their Director of Public Affairs, Loretta Ryan.

To learn more about the RAC zone, visit www.raczone.ca and www.towerrenewal.com

Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) award details: http://ontarioplanners.ca/Knowledge-Centre/Excellence-in-Planning-Awards