As part of the Culture of Outports initiative, Andrew Pruss, Alana Young, Jordan Molnar, and Shelley Ludman recently collaborated with six Ryerson architecture students and residents of Botwood, Nfld. to design and build an intervention in the local landscape.
The “Viewfinder” is a wood-frame, open-plank pavilion that serves as a shade structure, windbreak, and a frame for significant heritage views of the locale. It is intended as a focal point for community engagement, a landmark to stimulate activity in the community, and a steppingstone toward the cultivation of future cultural and economic opportunities. Continue Reading This Post
As part of the recent Culture of Outports project, our team of ERAers and Ryerson students has been collaborating with residents of Botwood Newfoundland for several days. In addition to meals, tours, history lessons, and collaborative design charrettes, the team got together to install dozens of ice candles (made by residents especially for our visit) to illuminate a strip of Botwood’s historic airfield.
A material library is a cataloged collection of real-world materials kept for research and reference. Often the library consists of recently released, innovative, or unusual products, but can also include more commonly used materials that are important to combine, compare, contrast etc., in their full materiality. Continue Reading This Post
As part of the Culture of Outports initiative, ERA’s Andrew Pruss, Alana Young, and Jordan Molnar are heading to Botwood Newfoundland from Feb. 15 to 22. Together with a group of Ryerson Architecture students, we’ll be collaborating with the community on a number of events, as well as the design and construction of an intervention in the local landscape. Continue Reading This Post
The historic John Irwin House (1873) was moved in 2013 from the west to the east side of this lot on Grenville near Yonge, in Toronto. Today it rests on a concrete slab and two concrete columns, suspended five storeys over solid ground. A new 50-storey condominium designed by architectsAlliance incorporates the John Irwin House into its podium.
As part of the development, the heritage exterior will be restored while the interior will be refurbished and adapted to commercial use. The suspension of the house on its “floating raft” allows crews to excavate below while the house remains in use as the site office. This unusual feat is the result of a rare collaboration between heritage architects (us), structural engineers (Jablonsky Ast), geostructural engineers (Isherwood), and building movers (Laurie McCulloch).
Throughout the first part of 2014, the Toronto Star is running a series called “Big Ideas“, asking Torontonians to think big about the future of the region. What type of Toronto do we want to create in the years to come?
On Saturday January 18, The East Scarborough Storefront hosted a public design charrette with partners United Way Toronto, Toronto Public Health (TPH), Sustainable TO, Architext, and ERA. Saturday’s discussion focused on TPH’s new program “Healthy Corner Stores,” a project that proposes to give suburban communities better access to fresh produce, and other healthy food options, through convenience stores. (Download a pdf summary of the charrette.)
Healthy Corner Stores is part of the growing Tower Renewal initiative, which aims to bring new amenities, healthy choices, and life on the street to Toronto’s tower neighbourhoods. Continue Reading This Post
In a recent article in the Globe & Mail, Dave LeBlanc explains how Gemini House provides a new, sustainable model for heritage homes.
The Gemini NTED approach, developed by U of T’s Kim Pressnail and Ryerson’s Russell Richman, is a new way to engineer low-energy housing. The idea is to put a box within a box, separating the home into a thermally isolated “core” and “periphery.”
Prior to joining the office, ERA’s Alex Rowse-Thompson spent several years as a Conservation and Design Officer in Gosport, an ancient naval town in the UK. As part of this work, Alex advocated for the heritage designation of an unusual piece of 20th century military infrastructure in Gosport: No. 2 Cavitation Tunnel. Recently, this advocacy proved successful, and the Tunnel was designated by English Heritage. Continue Reading This Post
Recently, ERA’s Michael McClelland and Victoria Angel spoke to a group of approximately 80 people at the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton regarding ERA’s role in Hamilton’s Downtown Built Heritage Inventory (DBHI) project.
The DBHI project is a pilot project to review and update information about 789 downtown properties on the Inventory of Buildings of Architectural and / or Historical Interest (within the area bounded by Wellington, Queen, Hunter, and Cannon streets). A preliminary assessment of the heritage value of these properties is also being carried out. Continue Reading This Post
As part of ongoing research and analysis of the Junction Commons Project (JCP) site at 209 Mavety St, ERA’s Graeme Stewart recently presented details of the site’s history at the JCP’s November town hall.
In the 1940s and ‘50s the block surrounded by Keele, Dundas, Annette, and Mavety was redesigned to function as a public services precinct for the Junction, complete with police, fire, and postal facilities. The JCP seeks to carry forward this legacy in the form of a facility serving a broad range of public and community amenities for the Junction neighbourhood. Continue Reading This Post
Last week, ERA completed work on the interior of GEMINI House at the University of Toronto, a collaboration in low energy retrofit with UofT’s Professor Kim Pressnail and team, and Ryerson’s Russell Richman. The GEMINI approach combines passivhaus techniques of hyper insulation and heat recovery, with the division of the house into two thermal zones, a core and periphery, to make more appropriate use of heating and energy consumption throughout the year. Continue Reading This Post
The Culture of Outports program is about to start up again, for our very first winter community build, in Botwood, Newfoundland.
Culture of Outports is a series of projects that uses research, design, and planning to make modest interventions that engage with, and help support, livable communities undergoing economic and cultural change after the decline of the Northern Cod Fishery. Continue Reading This Post
Together with the Junction Commons Project Community Group, ERA Architects and Urban Metrics are working with the residents of Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood to envision and examine the feasibility of transforming a former police station into a community hub. Continue Reading This Post
This fall, ERA’s Philip Evans met with a delegation of architects, engineers and developers from Chongqing, China. The purpose of their trip to Canada was to strengthen the ties between China and Canada in the areas of culture, trade, and technology in both design and construction. Continue Reading This Post
Ground, the magazine of the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA), recently published a new article by ERA’s Michael McClelland entitled “Sites of Value: Designating Modern Cultural Landscapes in Ontario.” Continue Reading This Post
Oct. 3rd 2013, Tafelmusik held its first public concert in a transformed concert hall at Trinity-St. Paul’s. ERA worked with acoustician Bob Essert and other consultants to restore and repair elements of the space, and improve its sound. According to all involved, the result is a success. Continue Reading This Post
This past weekend, the ERA Toronto office paid a visit to their Montreal counterpart. With the sun shining and 22 degree weather in September, the stage was set for a fun-filled weekend exploring Montreal. (Scroll down for the slide show.)
The weekend began on Friday night with a late night tour of the new Montreal office. This summer, Jan Kubanek and Emma Greer relocated to the Belgo Building on Ste-Catherine Street West, in the heart of downtown and right next to the Quartier des Spectacles. The Belgo Building was built in 1912 by Finley & Spence as the Scroggies Department Store. In 1958, it underwent a major renovation and now houses a mix of art galleries, artists studios and other creative spaces.
On Saturday, the office was lucky enough to participate in a walking tour of Silo 5. ERA’s Jan Kubanek, who has presented tours as a volunteer guide for Heritage Montreal for many years, led the group through the site, which consists of a series of monumental silos, in the city’s Old Port. (Thank you to Heritage Montreal and the Canada Lands Company for making this tour possible.) Following the tour, the group relaxed on the other side of the canal, enjoying the view of the setting sun on the silos.
Sunday morning, the group met up in the neighbourhood of La Petite Patrie for a brunch feast, with fresh pastries and local produce from the nearby Jean-Talon Market. The neighbourhood is a perfect example of the Montreal typology of walk-up row houses, spiral staircases and lush vegetation lining the streets.
For majority of the weekend, the group was left to their own devices, allowing ERA Toronto to discover, and fall in love, with the beauty of Montreal.
Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat, Councillor Peter Milczyn, and panel participants. Photo by Garry Weiler, City of Toronto
On Sept. 30, 2013, ERA’s Graeme Stewart participated in a City of Toronto Chief Planner’s Roundtable, hosted by Jennifer Keesmaat. The Roundtable, entitled “The Shape of Toronto’s Suburbs,” is the first of three sessions devoted to critical thinking about the history, evolution, and future of the GTA’s suburbs. Participants included John van Nostrand, Leo deSorcy, Pamela Blais, Laurie Payne, and Leona Savoie.
The panel raised a number of issues, including employment, distance, transit, private vs. public investment, small-scale and large scale intervention, and zoning reforms that are about to change the way things are done in some communities.
Though the situation is far from simple, the sense coming out of this Roundtable is very positive: Toronto has an enormous resource in its suburbs (and in the apartment neighbourhoods that make up so much of their fabric). New design and policy approaches can help remove the false dichotomy of ‘suburban’ vs. ‘urban’, and help us imagine a healthy, vibrant metropolis for the entire region.
On Saturday, Sept 14, ERA’s Shannon Clayton and the Architectural Conservancy’s NextGen Group held their second annual Design Charrette in Toronto. The all-day event took place at the Parliament Interpretive Center (265 Front St. E).
Twenty-eight participants worked in five teams to develop schemes for an underutilized site along Mill St. between Trinity and Parliament St. The teams were made up of students and emerging professionals in the fields of architecture, planning, environmental design, and heritage. Continue Reading This Post
A new article in Satellite Magazine on Toronto Towers by ERA’s Graeme Stewart, Josh Thorpe, and Michael McClelland.
The article compares Toronto’s two high-rise housing booms, which have generated housing in volume and distribution unlike anywhere else in North America: first, the suburban tower boom in Toronto’s post-war period, and next the contentious condo boom of recent years.
In both cases urban form and infrastructure have changed radically in a short period for an immediate purpose. The challenge occurs in ten or twenty years’ time as the city’s needs change: Do these built forms have the resiliency and flexibility to be adapt?
Satellite is a Toronto-based biannual magazine focusing on cities, culture, and politics. Each issue features an in-depth look at a single city, alongside interviews, art, and nonfiction, but also brings in topics of international interest.
The current issue of Satellite features Noam Chomsky on drones, an interview with Matthew Blackett of Spacing, and many other articles of interest. It will be available at Word on the Street on Sept. 22, and at a launch party to be determined soon.
The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) is a US-based not-for-profit dedicated to increasing public awareness of heritage landscape architecture and design. Through education, advocacy, outreach, and collaboration, TCLF aims to better our understanding of cultural landscapes, and to maintain and protect them for future generations. Continue Reading This Post
This June, ERA’s Victoria Angel and Michael McClelland attended the Vernacular Architecture Forum’s annual conference “The Ebb and Flow of Religion and Economy in Gaspé Cultural Landscapes.” Victoria and Michael were part of a keynote panel discussing approaches to heritage conservation in smaller communities and rural settings.
Gaspé, Québec is located on the northern tip of the Appalachians just at the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The bilingual conference explored two major themes: religious expressions (beyond organized churches), and economic evolution in Gaspé’s cultural landscapes. Continue Reading This Post
This summer, construction began at GEMINI House, a collaboration in low-energy retrofit research between the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. Professors Kim Pressnail and Russell Richman are the research leads, and ERA is the architect of record. The project explores new approaches to low-energy housing design, with the added complexity of being executed within an 1880s Second Empire-style masonry home, located on the UofT campus. Continue Reading This Post
We smoked cigars, blew bubbles, told humourous anecdotes, ate, drank, chased after obstreperous children, and mopped our brows in thirty-plus weather.
On the menu this year: hara bhara kebabs (“full-of-green” kebabs), “new age” watermelon salad, and several competing varieties of gourmet potato salad. For dessert: Greek honey balls, Newfoundland blueberry puff, Trinidadian rum cake, and Persian sholeh zard, which, we are given to understand, means “sloppy yellow.”
Thanks to Sonya and Anusha for organizing, and Andrew and Tony for hosting. Until next year!
The book, published by Coach House Books in 2007, reconsiders Toronto’s large inventory of concrete buildings and infrastructure from the perspective of a diverse group architects, city planners, academics, historians, and journalists. Continue Reading This Post
The Culture of Outports program has just concluded its third year of “community build” projects in Trinity Bay North, Newfoundland. The project uses planning and design thinking to bring new ideas and energy to outport communities experiencing economic and social change post-fisheries.
This year ERAers Andrew Pruss, Alana Young, Shelley Ludman, Douglas de Gannes, traveled with Ryerson students Madeleine Craig, Ryan Giuricich, Mitchell May, Elijah Sabadlan, and Karl Sarkis to the Trinity Bay North communities of Catalina, Little Catalina, Melrose, and Port Union. Continue Reading This Post
This week in Trinity Bay North, Newfoundland, the 2013 Culture of Outports project got a great start on its community build process. The community is fantastic and we’re having a great time.
In its first week the team has toured the local landscape and architecture extensively, held several community engagement meetings, mounted a historical slide show in the street, and installed 1000 feet of Christmas lights along Main St. to commemorate an early electrical power station built in Port Union in 1917. Continue Reading This Post