Tag Archives: heritage

Government Conference Centre: Progress on Heritage Interiors

The heritage interiors and finishes are coming to life at the Government Conference Centre (GCC) in Ottawa. Since the new year, the scaffolding has come down in the General Waiting Room (GWR, as shown here), revealing the rehabilitated suspended ceiling in its entirety and the recently painted imitation travertine wall finishes.

The GWR is an elaborate and significant interior space, part of the formal processional route bringing visitors through the building to some of its grandest interiors. As a visitor enters through the Rideau Entrance Lobby, down the grand stair, they find themselves here: viewing the building’s Beaux-Arts features evident in its monumental use of classical forms such as the columns, entablatures, pilasters, arches and vaults.

The GCC Rehabilitation Project is transforming the former Ottawa Union Station into an Interim Senate Facility for ten years, after which it will revert back to its role as the GCC. The rehabilitation aims to reveal the historical elements of the building that were concealed over time, such as its theatrical qualities and rich palette of materials.

ERA Architects is working as the heritage architects with Diamond Schmitt/KWC Architects in Joint Venture.

Photos courtesy of ERA Architects.

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.

an image of leather shoes recovered from the Armoury Street excavation is superimposed on top of a Goad's Insurance Map, detailing the site area and context of Centre Avenue and Armoury Street in historic St John's Ward.

Archaeology in The Ward: A New Exhibit

Just a few steps northwest of Toronto’s city hall is a quiet, empty plot of land and a former parking lot that will soon be the home of the new Toronto courthouse. But long before this site was just a place to park, it was a bustling part of St John’s Ward (The Ward), an area where newcomers to Toronto established themselves for over a century. In 2015, Infrastructure Ontario (IO), on behalf of the Ministry of the Attorney General, led a complex excavation and archaeological dig of the new Toronto courthouse site which revealed tens of thousands of artifacts from The Ward, providing an unprecedented level of insight into Toronto’s early multicultural history. As part of the heritage interpretation efforts for the site, IO and the City of Toronto developed a partnership to create opportunities to share the artifacts and their stories in four display cases at City Hall.

Archaeology in The Ward display case, showing a selection of bottles and glassware recovered from the excavation site. An enlarged Goad’s Insurance Map of Toronto shows the site in context.

ERA Architects is no stranger to the histories related to The Ward—Michael McClelland and Tatum Taylor helped to literally write the book. As heritage professionals and editors of ‘The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto’s First Immigrant Neighbourhood’ (Coach House Books, 2015), they were well positioned to approach the exhibition project with a comprehensive understanding of the site context along with the ability to provide powerful interpretations for the subjects reflected by the artifacts. ERA has been pleased to offer our expertise in this unique documentation of Toronto’s history, providing contextual research and interpretation for emergent themes, as well as designing the exhibit spaces in collaboration with City of Toronto Museums and Heritage Services.

The first of many planned exhibit installations was officially opened in February 2017 with the Mayor’s Reception for Black History Month and featured stories and important artifacts focused on Black History in The Ward, including the foundation stones of the British Methodist Episcopal Church, and a rare Black doll’s head.

We are excited to announce the latest installation of the ‘Armoury Street Dig’ series of exhibits at City Hall has opened this past week. This latest installation focuses on ‘Work in the Ward,’ showing that with the rapid industrialization of the late 19th century, manufacturing moved from homes to factories. In The Ward, this industrial and social shift can be seen clearly, with factories steadily replacing houses between 1895 and 1950. The exhibit is open now and on view during regular public hours in city hall’s main floor rotunda, located adjacent to both the east and west elevator bays, and will be on display through spring of 2018.

In the west exhibit cases, artifacts from the ‘Armoury Street Dig’ highlight two 19th-century household industries that were prevalent on the site: shoemaking and tailoring. The excavation site includes one of the largest archaeological collections of 19th and early 20th-century shoes ever unearthed in Canada, most too fragile to display but documented by photographs and reproduction tools. Other artifacts on display include tools commonly used by tailors and seamstresses in the period: straight pins, buttons made of ceramic and glass, thimbles, wooden spools, and bodkins.

In the east exhibit cases, industry in factories is examined through narratives that range from small-scale family operations such as the Edward Lye and Sons Church Organ Builders which operated first out of their home, to the large-scale T. Eaton Co. Tent and Awning  Factory on Chestnut Street. On display are two moulds used in mass production: one small drawer handle mould, likely used in furniture manufacturing on the site, and a large rubber hat mould used to form men’s brimmed felt hats from the Fashion Hat & Cap Company, which occupied the former Eaton’s factory on Chestnut Street from the 1940s to the 1960s.

The exhibit is on view during regular public hours in city hall’s main floor rotunda, located adjacent to both the east and west elevator bays, and will be on display through spring of 2018.

Infrastructure Ontario is creating an online archive of past exhibit displays available at infrastructureontario.ca/armourystreetdig

Link to the Toronto Star’s coverage: https://www.thestar.com/news/immigration/2018/01/11/new-exhibit-sheds-light-on-torontos-early-immigrant-entrepreneurship.html

Related content:
https://www.eraarch.ca/2015/the-ward-a-new-book-coming-2015/
https://www.eraarch.ca/2015/the-ward-a-new-book-update/
https://www.eraarch.ca/2017/coming-up-the-ward-songs-and-sounds-of-a-lost-toronto-neighbourhood/

Post by guest writer Carl Shura.
All photos courtesy of ERA Architects and TMHC.

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.

Diverse Recognition for ERA for Achievement in the Realms of Architectural Conservancy and Urban Design

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario hosted its annual awards dinner on Friday, October 23rd at Osgoode Hall. The event presents opportunities to celebrate notable provincial people, projects and initiatives related to the field of built heritage conservation.

ERA is thrilled to share that Edwin Rowse was honoured this year with the Eric Arthur Lifetime Achievement Award. Edwin has specialized in the field of heritage architecture for more than 35 years, and has been in partnership with Michael McClelland since 1990 as a co-founding principal of ERA Architects Inc. A specialist in building and environmental assessment and restoration, his work has encouraged renewed interest in historical forms and techniques and has served the restoration, adaptive reuse and preservation of many heritage buildings including the Government Conference Centre (Ottawa), the Union Station Train Shed Enhancement (Toronto), the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (Ottawa), the archives of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, the East Enlisted Mens’ Barracks on the CNE Grounds (Toronto), and Tafelmusik/St. Paul’s Church (Toronto). Edwin is widely respected for his broad depth of knowledge in conservation science, his commitment to fairness and respect, and his generosity as a mentor.

The firm is also pleased to announce another award win for the Broadview Hotel, the Paul Oberman Award for Adaptive Reuse (corporate).  Its revitalization is the most visible manifestation of the area’s transformation from its ‘rough around the edges’ recent past into a lively destination. Completed in 1892, the Broadview Hotel was built in the Romanesque Revival style of architecture, with ornate exterior terracotta panels, decorative arches, and classical columns.

The conservation strategy for the site focused on rehabilitation and restoration, in order to maintain the key architectural features of the building while constructing an addition, ensuring it housed street level commercial uses and remained open to the public. Standards were followed as the guideline for the work, and historic photographic evidence was consulted to inform the restoration. The hotel’s conservation and adaptive reuse demonstrate the collaborative commitment of ERA Architects and Streetcar Developments to create culturally rich and livable communities in the downtown core. Congratulations to the ERA project team: Michael McClelland, Andrew Pruss, Annabel Vaughan, Annie Pelletier and Jasmine Frolick.

Lastly, we wanted to give a shout out to the project team behind the rejuvenation of the National Arts Centre (NAC) at 1 Elgin Street in Ottawa, a project which sees the building transformed and expanded to engage with the surrounding streetscape, enhancing the visibility and accessibility of the main entrance. ERA served as Heritage Conservation Advisor for Diamond Schmitt Architects on the project. Our role was to provide advice in regards to heritage and conservation issues and to assist in the development of a conservation approach for the proposed rehabilitation and interventions. Project team members include: Michael McClelland, Edwin Rowse, and Victoria Angel.

For more information on the ACO Award wins: http://www.arconserv.ca/news_events/show.cfm?id=458

For more information on the Ottawa Urban Design Award Winners: https://ottawa.ca/en/business/planning-and-development/urban-design-awards

The Broadview Hotel Opens its Doors to the Public

Since it first opened as Dingman’s Hall in 1891, the Broadview Hotel has been a landmark east of the downtown in the Riverside neighbourhood. Originally a venue for public meetings and commercial businesses, it first opened as a hotel in 1908. With the recent renewal, it has once again become a community hub for events and the hotel will host many new visitors to the area: we are pleased to announce that the building has its public opening on July 27, 2017.

Although the original architect is unknown, the building’s architecture is in the same style as Toronto’s Old City Hall, with unique and ornate exterior terracotta panels depicting animals and allegorical figures. The twenty-one individually sculpted panels are probably the most distinctive features of the building, fabricated with the same quality materials and craftsmanship that defined the city’s 19th century construction.

The repair of the historic building, and the contemporary glass addition achieve a balance that’s a welcome contribution to the evolution of this neighbourhood, and the newly created restaurants, hotel and rooftop bar and terrace reanimate this key corner site. It seems appropriate that the Broadview Hotel is at the intersection of two 24 hour streetcar lines.

The project was led by Streetcar Developments with ERA Architects, Atkins+VanGroll Engineers and Design Agency.

Link to project profile: https://www.eraarch.ca/project/the-broadview-hotel/

Link to Streetcar’s website, for more event information: https://streetcar.ca/

(photos: Marcus Mitanis)

The Lost Craft of Tuck Pointing

Pointing, repointing, tuck pointing, ribbon pointing, flush pointing, there are many techniques and they are all different. Tuck pointing is a style of jointing that was predominantly used on English brickwork from the late seventeen century and it continued in popular use through the early 20th century. Done properly, it is the most highly skilled of all pointing finishes and gives the illusion of finely pointed gauged brickwork on principal facades. It helped give the impression of quality to buildings constructed of damaged or irregular bricks. When laid in the normal manner of the day, such bricks produced walls with wide joints of irregular and uneven pattern which appear the sum of their constituent parts rather than as a coherent surface or plane. In the late 17th century the problem was avoided by using soft, rubbed bricks which could then be laid with thin, straight joints, however such work was costly. Tuck pointing was a less expensive alternative which seems to have been particularly popular for use on terraced housing up to the late 19th century. One of the most famous terraced houses in the British empire was tuck pointed: 10 Downing Street. While the technique is no longer in prominent use, knowledge of it is needed to repair those buildings which remain.

The effect is achieved by filling joints with a base mortar which has been coloured to match the surrounding brickwork. Where necessary, it covers the rounded or damaged brick edges in order to finish flush with the wall face. Over this is a narrow ribbon of fine, vernally white or cream coloured pointing material of well-sifted lime mixed with fine silica sand. This is skillfully applied or ‘tucked’ onto the regular grooved centres of the prepared joints and precisely trimmed to size.

Walking through neighbourhoods such as Cabbagetown, lower Rosedale and Parkdale, you still see the remnants of original tuck pointing on old brick buildings. This was a prominent aesthetic element throughout the city. However, it can be difficult to determine whether an historic building had been tuck pointed originally, mainly because of the sand blasting practice in recent decades.The abrasion of the sand on the surface removes paint and staining, but also often erodes the surface of the brick, mortar, and adjacent materials, including the tuck pointing ribbon if present, effectively removing any evidence of the brick building being tuck pointed.

Such a specimen can be seen at 62-64 Charles Street, 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.

On Scarpa’s Castelvecchio

Having returned from a trip to Verona, ERAer Ryan Love recently presented to the office on his experience of the amazing Castelvecchio, a fine example of medieval Gothic architecture, completed in 1355. The castle was built as a fortified home for the Lord of Verona, Cangrande II della Scala, and has over the years seen many occupants and undergone many adaptations, the most recent in the 1960s by Carlo Scarpa. The result is an incredibly complex and subtle approach to heritage conservation and adaptive reuse. Continue reading

Serra’s Shift to be designated under Heritage Act

In February, Council for King City, Ontario voted to designate Richard Serra’s Shift under the Ontario Heritage Act. This represents a great step forward in formalizing the cultural significance of the work of art, and sets context to establish guidelines for its conservation. ERA wrote a letter in support of designating the work earlier this year. Continue reading

Append & tweak: Rethinking heritage in our suburbs

An article by ERA associate Joey Giaimo was recently published in the latest APT Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology International.  The article, “Append & Tweak: An Approach for Preserving the Evolving Suburban Landscape,” asks us to re-evaluate how we regard and manage heritage resources in suburban contexts, and argues for a cultural landscape approach as we move forward. Continue reading

ACO NextGen tours Maple Leaf Gardens

This November ERA principal Scott Weir led a Maple Leaf Gardens tour organized by the NextGen group of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO). NextGen is a branch of the ACO that provides educational and professional development opportunities for young architects, students, and heritage enthusiasts. Continue reading

The Red Mason

Recently, as part of ERA’s ongoing interest in preserving and applying traditional building crafts, we were happy to be involved in heritage masonry workshops led by Dr. Gerard Lynch. Dr. Lynch is an internationally acclaimed historic brickwork consultant, master bricklayer, educator, and author.  He is considered the world’s leading authority of gauged brickwork, and affectionately known by the historic term “The Red Mason.” Continue reading