ERA Architects

Tower Renewal in 2017

The Tower Renewal strategy has had significant impact over the past year. Across all levels of government, there is a growing consensus: Tower Renewal can have a scalable impact nation-wide as a means to meet climate change, affordable housing, poverty reduction, smart growth, and economic development objectives. Some highlights include:

1. Announcement of $15.9B Co-Investment Fund, committing to the rehabilitation of 240,000 units of existing affordable housing as part of Canada’s landmark National Housing Strategy.

2. $350M allocated towards apartment retrofit through Ontario’s Social Housing Apartment Retrofit Program (SHARP) and Social Housing Apartment Improvement Program (SHAIP) with the first round of projects underway.

3. Release of Transform TO, a strategy adopted by Toronto City Council that will require every multi-unit residential building (MURB) to undergo deep energy retrofit by 2050.

4. Intermunicipal Working Group convened with representatives from Ontario’s four largest cities: Toronto, Hamilton, Mississauga and Ottawa working toward a collaborative Tower Renewal framework. 

5. Provincial collaboration toward Tower Renewal action. Initiated in 2017, five provincial ministries are coordinating to tackle the question of enabling Tower Renewal in Ontario through housing rehabilitation and neighbourhood growth planning.

6. The Tower Renewal Action Forum brought together international experts and local city-builders to explore innovative strategies for transitioning aging tower neighbourhoods to meet the demands of our 21st century cities with welcome remarks from Mayor of Toronto,  John Tory and the Minister of Housing, Peter Milczyn.

7. 500 tower sites in the City of Toronto rezoned through the launch of the RAC Zone, removing barriers to Complete Community objectives being met on tower sites. CUG+R, the Tower and Neighbourhood Revitalization UnitUnited Way Toronto and York Region, and Toronto Public Health won the 2017 OPPI Excellence in Planning Award for the implementation of this work.

8. New primary research underway towards a comprehensive Tower Renewal framework: Retrofit Finance Analysis for a nation-wide retrofit program prepared by the Tower Renewal Partnership and the National Housing Collaborative, and a study on Housing Quality and Standards prepared by CUG+R and Transsolar in partnership with Maytree identifying standards to ensure healthy, safe, and resilient retrofits.

9. University Research Network established, harnessing applied graduate student research on Tower Renewal at five academic institutions across Ontario.

10. Unit Retrofit Challenge initiated, creating a prototype to engage owners and industry in research, development, monitoring, and verification of local best practices on a single-unit basis.

In 2018, work continues by a diverse set of partners to continue to enable Tower Renewal and the Tower Renewal Partnership continues to be a catalyst for this progress through ongoing research, policy advocacy, and action.

Urban Form and Social Energy of the City- the University of Waterloo focuses on isolation in Toronto’s mature suburbs

This March, ERA’s Ya’el Santopinto was a panelist at the “Urban Form and Social Energy of the City”, a forum hosted by the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture. Under the overarching theme of non-isolating urbanism and architecture, discussions explored challenges and opportunities in preserving affordable housing and transforming tower neighbourhoods throughout the Toronto Region.

Alongside Ya’el were Martine August from the University of Waterloo Planning and George Baird from the University of Toronto, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design with Adrian Blackwell as Moderator.

For more information, visit the University’s event page here.

Header image courtesy of the University of Waterloo Architecture’s Instagram account.

Casey House is Awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation

The 2017 Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation has been awarded to ERA Architects, for the conservation of Casey House. The award highlights projects across the province that contribute to the conservation of a heritage building and the community enhancement it fosters. The firm is thrilled, and could not have successfully completed this endeavor without collaboration from Hariri Pontarini Architects and the broader community.

Casey House is a significant visual reminder of the affluence and grandeur of Jarvis street during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The property has been redeveloped as a state-of-the-art AIDS/HIV healthcare facility that integrates the historic building with a new four-storey extension.  The design of the contemporary facility juxtaposed against the Victorian mansion is a distinct but complementary addition by Hariri Pontarini. It embraces and respects the existing building, preserving its qualities and organizing the day-to-day user experience. Throughout the project, the architects considered how to manifest unifying themes from the AIDS movement such as ‘embrace’ and ‘quilt’ by working the design concept from the inside out.

The conservation strategy was to retain and conserve the heritage fabric, replacing deteriorated elements where necessary. The preservation of the exterior was extensive, including the removal of paint from the masonry, repointing of brickwork, the replacement of stone bands, the fabrication and installation of new window boxes, and new lead-coated copper spiralettes on the roof. The iron fence was repaired and repainted, and the wall it sits on was cleaned, re-pointed, and any deteriorated stone replaced. The interior preservation included the repair and repainting of the plasterwork, the development of the colour scheme, preservation of the fireplaces, and repair of the mosaic flooring in the vestibule. The woodwork was repaired and refinished, and the timber flooring repaired and re-stained. A high degree of durability in the finishes was required to withstand the rigours of the daily/weekly cleaning regimes required of a hospital. Casey House is Canada’s first and only stand-alone hospital for people living with HIV/AIDS.  

In spite of the complexity involved with designing a health facility, the preservation and restoration of the original building—an example of the grand homes that lined Jarvis Street at the time of its development—was at the forefront of discussions when expanding the facility first arose.

At its heart, the redevelopment of Casey House was a community-inspired and driven initiative, with stakeholders recognizing the importance of their generous contributions.

Congratulations to ERA’s project team: Michael McClelland, Edwin Rowse, Scott Weir, Jessie Grebenc, Joey Giaimo, Luke Denison,  and Mikael Sydor.

Related links:
https://www.eraarch.ca/project/239/
https://www.eraarch.ca/2017/a-hospital-with-heart-that-embraces-its-patients-celebrates-its-grand-reopening/
https://www.eraarch.ca/2017/capitalizing-on-heritage-awarding-conservation-materials-craftsmanship-and-construction/
http://www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/media-releases/lieutenant-governors-ontario-heritage-awards-presentation

​Project photos are courtesy of Vik Pahwa.

The Legacy Lives On: Hamilton’s Built Heritage Inventory as an emerging practice in historic urban landscape stewardship

ERA Associate Victoria Angel’s article in Plan Magazine’s Winter Issue ‘Urban heritage: A living legacy’ on the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) Recommendation (2011) illustrates its implications and emerging practices, using the City of Hamilton’s Built Heritage Inventory as a case-study. The recommendation encourages a more holistic, integrative approach to urban heritage conservation, focusing on the urban landscape. It proposes that future considerations around urban development should enhance sustainability, functionality, inclusivity, place-making and local identities. Governments have experimented with its implementation, in spite of the complexity of the various urban systems.

Practices that have emerged as a result include a greater use of community consultation, and the characterization of large urban areas through the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), which integrate well with other municipal information systems.

Hamilton’s Built Heritage Inventory process was adopted by its City Council in the spring of 2014 and was the subject of a paper by Victoria Angel, Angela Garvey and Mikael Sydor that was published by the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. The City of Hamilton intends to implement the strategy one neighbourhood at a time, at a citywide level.

By incorporating the HUL’s recommendations, ‘…Citywide surveys and inventories, landscape characterization, and an understanding of people’s perceptions of the places they inhabit could, in the future, be used by cities to identify a much broader range of conservation opportunities, better understand an area’s capacity to change and evolve, and reposition historic resources to serve as the springboard and foundation for new development….’

Article in CIP’s PLAN Canada Journal: http://www.kelmanonline.com/httpdocs/files/CIP/plancanadawinter2017/index.html
Related content: https://www.eraarch.ca/2017/hamiltons-durand-built-heritage-inventory-project-incorporates-digital-innovation-to-develop-a-citywide-approach-to-heritage-planning/
https://www.eraarch.ca/project/hamilton-downtown-built-heritage-inventory/
https://www.eraarch.ca/2013/9295/

All images courtesy of ERA Architects.

62 – 64 Charles Street: The Lost Craft of Tuck-pointing Returns

Tuck-pointing was developed by the English back in the late 17th century and was practiced all the way up to the early 20th century. Historic preservationist/educator Michael Shellenbarger states in a 1993 essay titled Tuck Pointing History and Confusion the correct definition of tuck-pointing (based on historical precedents) is:

…… a masonry jointing that uses mortar in two colours to simulate the appearance of narrow joints. The actual joint is disguised with a flush mortar tinted to appear similar to the colour of masonry units. A joint like groove (the tuck) is often cut into this flush joint. Then mortar of a contrasting colour is added onto the flush joint and into the groove and is shaped and trimmed into a narrow false joint, which usually projects slightly. This line gives the appearance of a narrow projecting jointing.    

Completed properly, tuck-pointing is the most highly skilled of all pointing finishes. It creates the illusion of finely pointed gauged brickwork, enhancing the quality of appearance of buildings constructed of damaged or irregular bricks.

62 – 64 Charles Street East, an ERA project where recent conservation work has restored the tuck-pointed building to its former glory under the expert hand of Hunt Heritage. This is the largest application of the process that ERA has been involved with, and it’s an exemplar for bringing this lost craft back to the city. The project was undertaken in the late summer of 2015 and completed in late spring of 2017.

As heritage consultants ERA strived to protect the value, significance and integrity of the heritage assets. The work required a full conservation scope on the semi-detached house, that included the rarely-seen craft of tuck-pointing for which National Trust (Aus) award-winning Tuck-pointer Antoni Pijaca was hired to share his expertise and the secrets of his trade.

The Charles Street project was honoured last fall with a 2017 CAHP Award of Excellence —Materials, Craftsmanship and Construction. ERA is continuing to feature this technique prominently through work on the Selby Hotel at 592 Sherbourne, which is set to be completed in the summer.

For more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxPc6_2R-Hc
Article by Dave LeBlanc in the Globe and Mail: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/toronto/the-lost-art-of-tuckpointing-reborn-intoronto/article37802073/

Related content: https://www.eraarch.ca/2017/capitalizing-on-heritage-awarding-conservation-materials-craftsmanship-and-construction/
https://www.eraarch.ca/2017/era-learns-the-fine-art-of-tuckpointing-from-a-melbourne-based-master/
https://www.eraarch.ca/2012/tuckpointing-a-note-on-detail/