ERA Architects

MLG in Canadian Architect

Conceptual collage of overlapping 1930s and contemporary MLG streetscapes at the corner of Church and Carlton (including Humphrey Bogart biking by, just for good measure). William MacIvor, ERA Architects.

The on-going adaptive reuse of Maple Leaf Gardens is featured in the June edition of Canadian Architect.

ERA Architects has signed on to deal with the restoration of the façade and the canopy. … [A]bout one-fifth of the bricks will be repointed, [and] much of the material can be salvaged from the new openings for loading bays and air intake vents. The upper level fenestration will be refitted with double-glazed vintage steel industrial windows. ERA is also developing a restoration plan for the oft-renovated entrance canopy that brings its appearance (including fonts) back to the Gardens’ heyday from the 1940s to the 1960s.


The current state of internal excavation, and preliminary shoring & foundation work. ERA Architects.

Glass & Glazing in the 21st Century

Andrew recently attended the Glass & Glazing in the 21st Century: Design and preservation of Contemporary and Historic Architecture conference at MIT, and gave us an overview of the highlights at this week’s Friday social hour.

The conference presenters were a diverse group including architects, engineers, designers, manufacturers and fabricators working on projects that explore the properties of glass and how it can alter light, insulate envelopes and compose leading edge structures.

A selection of projects by conference presenter James Carpenter.

This was tempered with participation from conservationist who are engaged in trying to solve the significant problems encountered in early modern buildings that use significant amounts of glass. Finally, there was a day long immersion into stained glass conservation practices in the US and Europe.

Bigelow Chapel at the Mount Auburn Cemetery

Dispatchwork

Though perhaps not exactly in-line with the Ministry of Culture’s Ontario Heritage Tool Kit procedures or the guidelines set forth in the Burra Charter, these temporary masonry repairs in Bocchignano, Italy are a series of wonderfully playful gestures.



photographs via Jan Vormann

ps: How do you write a spec for Lego?

Don Valley Brick Works

Wednesday morning’s design forum took a slightly different approach this week. The ERA team went on a field trip down to the Don Valley Brick Works, a site ERA has been working on since 2002, to meet up with the George Brown Masonry students. ERA has been performing site review to the masonry students who are in the second year of their Building Restoration Technician Program.

Professor John Jensen, an experienced heritage mason, provided us with a hands-on demonstration of various types of mortar batching including: lime putty and sand; hydrated lime, sand and water; and a pre-bagged Dubois mix which has hydraulic lime. Each mortar has it’s own unique characteristics, and we were able to explore each in turn. Once we had the mortar batched, everyone took a turn at pointing a mock-up wall.

The hands-on experience gave everyone a taste at the work involved in providing specific pointing profiles and techniques, as well a better understanding of the tools, techniques and craft of fine masonry.

First time buyer, beware.

Round One: Get It Livable…
One of ERA’s own goes through her first home purchase and improvements. In a little alley near Dundas and Trinity Bellwoods, a row of 1870’s houses have been minimally touched and altered. With a simple construction of balloon framing and one layer of bricks; the house is modest and functional; it is also bound on three sides with no access except from the narrow front door. First steps towards simply being able to move in have been undertaken: this includes fixing a very leaky old roof, ripping out a moldy bathroom and painting every possible interior surface. Next steps towards renovations, maintenance, and an addition could mean real estate disaster or top dollar ~alas~ stay tuned for the next installment!

Window and door openings


UC at the University of Toronto. Building designed by Cumberland and Storm, 1856-7.

This past Friday Scott gave an internal presentation about the different types of window and door openings in masonry construction, how to write about and describe each element correctly, and how these elements can help to locate a building within a specific historical period.

The presentation also included a brief tour of some architectural wonders in his hometown of Detroit, MI – many of which are currently for sale at rock-bottom prices.



More images from Scott’s extensive catalogue of architectural photographs are available on his Flickr page.

Colour Washing, Stopping, and Penciling

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We have observed that on many buildings from the Victorian period in Toronto there is a finishing application that is often original to the building construction. This finish includes a coloured pointing of the joints (stopping), a staining of the surface (colour washing) and the application of a slim and regular representation of mortar joints that replicates fine, gauged brickwork (penciling).Working together with Paul Goldsmith of Heritage Restoration, we have reproduced this process on a recent project using a series of in-situ tests applied to sample areas of brickwork.This finishing approach may be used in future conservation work as part of the repair of existing masonry.

The Carlu, before and after

In this line of work, there’s often nothing more satisfying than a juxtaposition of the historic, the as-found (generally neglected and derelict), and the restored. For your viewing pleasure, we present a few of these moments from the rejuvenation of the Carlu.

The Round Room at the Carlu – when it first opened in 1931, as-found before restoration, and after.


Detail of the central fountain, before restoration and after.

Detail of the central overhead light-fixture in the Round Room, before and after. Note the beautiful original grille set into the ceiling above the fixture, which reflects the original space-planning of the room below.  The exposed rivets in the central black band were also (originally) cleverly disguised sprinkler heads.

The main foyer of the Carlu, before and after.

Detail of the Carlu foyer display cases, before and after.  Note the unique, restored decorative air-return grille.

Can’t order those from a catalogue..

The interior of the Carlu is the wealth of small, custom details – from the lights to the central fountain to the return-air grilles. The grilles especially are miniature art-deco treasures, and demonstrate an artful way of elevating a necessary ‘building-systems’ component into an element which helps define the atmosphere of the larger space.

Historic photograph of the foyer of the Carlu, with grilles in place.

The grilles as they were found prior to restoration.

The restored grilles.

Tub Restoration

Scott’s “standing waste” and corner tub restoration is now completed and functional. The project started with Scott separately purchasing a ca 1910 salvaged standing waste assembly and a glazed cast iron corner tub for installation into his house. The tub finish was damaged and needed to be reglazed. The standing waste needed a complete overhaul, including new nickel plating, replacement of the valve seats, fashioning new parts to fit it the salvaged element with the tub and installation into a new location.

Standing waste and drain tub valves (or Bi-transit drains) were common around the turn of the century. The free standing pipes include a manifold yoke at the centre which directs water from the hot and cold water pipes into the tub through a bell shaped spout mounted on the tub wall. The central post labeled waste contains the overflow, a pipe within a pipe connected to the tub drain – when the waste post is down, the two pipes form a seal at the bottom. Water fills the outer pipe as the tub fills, and overflows through holes punched into the inner pipe leading to the drain. When the waste post is lifted then the two pipes separate at the bottom and the tub is allowed to empty.

Corner tubs were available with the sloped portion (to fit your back) located against the wall requiring a standing waste, or with feet to the wall which required simpler taps mounted on the wall. Corner tubs became less common with the rise in popularity of the shower.

299 Queen St. W

In December of 2007 ERA completed the terracotta restoration of 299 Queen Street West, the home of Canada’s MuchMusic.
Undertaken in four phases over five years, the project included new structural steel work, repair of the terracotta tiles, and the installation of new precast elements.

Cambridge City Hall

ERA is pleased to announce that Phase 1 of the exterior restoration work at Cambridge City Hall has been completed. We had the pleasure of restoring the tower and the slate roof. The highlights of the restoration work were the installation of the missing original concealed gutter on the main roof, the reintroduction of the two toned slate shingles on the upper tower roof and the refreshing of the four clock faces.

Thank you to Diamond + Schmitt Architects Inc., Clifford Restoration Ltd., Heather and Little Ltd. and Centrum Renovation and Repair Inc. for a job well done.