Tag Archives: Tower Renewal

Ken Soble Tower, a white-clad 18-storey tower viewed from a vantage at ground level and looking high up into the sky.

Canada’s Ken Soble Tower certified as world’s largest residential Passive House EnerPHit retrofit

One of the first of its kind in North America, the 18-storey affordable seniors tower serves as a model for low-carbon, resilient future

Ken Soble Tower, a white-clad 18-storey tower viewed from a vantage at ground level and looking high up into the sky.

January 19, 2022 (Hamilton, ON) – ERA Architects (ERA) and PCL Construction (PCL) announce the Ken Soble Tower in Hamilton, Canada, has become the world’s largest residential building retrofitted to the Passive House standard – achieving the renowned EnerPHit certification – while also marking the first retrofit of its kind in North America. Continue reading

Affordability and resiliency: Renewing Toronto’s towers

Photo courtesy Jesse Colin Jackson

Over time, Canada’s aging mid-century towers have become the backbone of the country’s affordable rental supply, home to hundreds of thousands of low and middle-income households across the country.  

There are 2,000 postwar apartment towers located throughout Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe Region alone, representing nearly half of the region’s affordable rental stock. In 2006, more than 40 per cent of tower households in the city are considered low-income, up from 25 per cent in 1981. As the housing crisis continues to mount, it’s only imaginable that this number continues to rise. Maintaining these largely privately-owned buildings to ensure their continued affordability is a vital and necessary part of improving Toronto’s housing ecosystem.

A tower

ERA’s Tower Renewal projects focus on rehabilitating these aging and neglected towers, creating comfortable, affordable and healthy homes for residents. These tower renewal projects also include energy-efficient and low-carbon retrofits that help maintain affordability while limiting the impact on the environment.

Through the Tower Renewal Partnership, ERA collaborated with the City of Toronto and ULI Toronto to host a week of events focused on exploring how we can better retrofit our apartment towers in order to create a more resilient city. 

A group of people in a meeting

ERA hosted an opening session on affordability and resilience in our tower blocks at the office.

The week culminated with an Advisory Panel on Friday, February 28, where experts focused on solutions, providing a series of recommendations to the City to encourage broad investment in the improvement of private apartment towers while maintaining rents at affordable levels.

The recommendations emphasized the importance of acting swiftly when it comes to retrofitting these towers. They include: incentivizing higher levels of affordability and accessibility, accelerating tower renewal with a retrofit program and more. Watch the presentation below, and for the full list of recommendations, visit the Tower Renewal Partnership website.

These conversations could not have been held at a more critical time. This week, residents began to return home to their building at 650 Parliament Street following an August 2018 electrical fire.

Graeme Stewart on CBC Radio.

The displacement of the building’s more than 1,500 residents paints a clear picture of the potential future of some of our towers if they are not upgraded to ensure they remain safe and affordable for Torontonians. ERA principal Graeme Stewart was interviewed on CBC Radio’s The World at Six about Tower Renewal and 650 Parliament. 

A group touring a tower neighbourhood in Toronto

Learn more about the Tower Renewal Partnership, and the Advisory Panel event, and explore more ERA tower renewal projects.

Toronto the Good 2017

Toronto the Good is back, ushering in a new season at a new venue! It is an annual party presented by ERA Architects (and friends) to celebrate the city of Toronto, and contemplate its history and evolution with fellow architects, designers, and urban-minded people.

For this instalment of our annual party we are supporting the initiatives of the Tower Renewal Partnership, an initiative working to preserve and enhance mid-century apartment tower neighbourhoods through research, advocacy and demonstration. International experts and local city-builders will be meeting at a symposium during the day to explore innovative strategies for transitioning these aging apartment tower neighbourhoods to meet the demands of our 21st century cities. Now is the time for coordinated action to build a future around more complete, resilient, and affordable cities. Tower Renewal is a strategy for realizing this change.

We hope you will join us at the Evergreen Brick Works on October 5th, 2017, in celebration of the Tower Renewal Partnership’s accomplishments at this year’s event. Join us for hors d’ourves, cash bar, and a lively crowd of people passionate about design and civic engagement in Toronto.

Admission is free, but registration is required for entry into the party.

Join us at 5:30pm for a keynote by author and journalist Doug Saunders.

Shuttle buses will be running between Broadview Station and the Evergreen Brick Works throughout the duration of the event.

When: Thursday, October 5th, 2017, 6:00 – 10:00pm.
Where: Evergreen Brick Works

Register here through Eventbrite.

Click here for more information on the Tower Renewal Partnership and its work.

Graeme Stewart interviewed on The Urbanist

Monocle Radio recently interviewed ERA’s Graeme Stewart on The Urbanist, a weekly program on the people and ideas that shape urban life. In this week’s edition, Andrew Tuck speaks with Graeme about Toronto’s modernist legacy and the Tower Renewal program.

You can listen to this interview online at Monocle.com #61.

Graeme Stewart on “Imagine a City”

This autumn, United Way’s Imagine a City blog is hosting a series of guest writers to discuss a number of important programs related to Toronto’s future as a livable city. Recently ERA’s Graeme Stewart blogged on his vision for Tower Neighbourhood Renewal, a program we have been working on in collaboration with partners including the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R), the City of Toronto, Province of Ontario, Toronto Public Health, and United Way Toronto. Continue reading

Health, zoning and urban design: Two new reports released

The Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R) has announced the release of two reports examining public health, urban policy, and neighbourhood rejuvenation in Toronto:

In partnership with United Way Toronto and Toronto Public Health respectively, these reports further research, policy development, and practical strategies to help achieve the potential of Tower Neighbourhood Renewal.

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Youth build decking for Scarborough shade structure

Beginning in early July, six youth from the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park community were hired for a five-week period by the East Scarborough Storefront to continue work on a series of community-oriented landscape improvements. These features were designed as part of the Community Design Initiative (C.D.I.) program, to which these youth have previously volunteered hundreds of hours.

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Construction and river valley tour, East Scarborough

Photos: Holly Pagnacco

Progress on the East Scarborough Storefront’s (ESS) soon-to-be grapevine pergola is running on time. We have just completed some 50 trellis modules which will form the roof structure for the grapevines to grow on. The youth spent weeks building these modules and have become confident measuring and cutting wood, along with many other skills.

As part of this ongoing learning process, our youth landscapers recently presented on the transformations the community could expect at ESS, including the pergola and deck, which the team has been working on since early July. Participants were surprised and inspired to see the impressive projects community youth are working on.

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Construction begins at the Storefront

Over the past couple of years, ERA has been working with The East Scarborough Storefront (ESS) on the Community Design Initiative (CDI), where Scarborough youth are educated in architecture and design by mentors from ERA, Sustainable.TO, and ArchiTEXT. In the current phase, we are working to bring more shade and plant life to the site. This will include several garden and landscape features, a pergola structure for grapevines, and a green-roof pavilion known as the Sky-o-swale.

Beginning earlier in July, five youth from the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park community, who have cumulatively dedicated hundreds of hours to the CDI program, were hired by the ESS for a five-week period to physically build an exterior deck for public use (located under the Sky-o-swale), as well as 50 trellis modules that will form the roof structure for the grapevine pergola.

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Micro-enterprise on Toronto’s streets

In early June, Working Habitat and Scadding Court Community Centre (SCCC) hosted a charrette exploring opportunities for small-scale enterprise and pop-up vendors in Toronto. The charrette introduced important lessons and concepts from Scadding Court’s experiences with Market 707.

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