In the 2012 Quality of Life Issue of Monocle Magazine, ERA’s Graeme Stewart fields a few questions on Toronto’s Tower Renewal Project from Christopher Frey, Monocle correspondent and former Chief Editor for Toronto Standard.
Like architecture offices around the globe, ERA Architects occasionally indulges in a bake-off. In these highly competitive events, contestants’ work is assessed and ranked by blind ballot, and the winner is proffered the prestigious Golden Whisk (pictured above, bottom right).
On a recent pleasant day in June, ERA joined green roof expert Atom Cianfarani and a group of community youth to plant a nursery in preparation for the future construction of an unusual green-roof shade structure at the East Scarborough Storefront.
Over the past year, we have been working with the Storefront, Sustainable.TO, ArchiTEXT, various volunteers, and youth participants on an exciting project in the tower neighbourhood of Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park. Soon we begin construction of a dynamic new environment including a kitchen garden and patio, a bee and butterfly garden, a small orchard, and a unique green-roof pavilion or “Sky-o-swale.”
Recently the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3) announced the 2012/13 round of its Creative Ventures project. DC3, a partnership between Business Leaders for Michigan and the College for Creative Studies, seeks to enhance the collective potential of Detroit’s creative community and grow its creative economy. This kind of initiative is key to the increasing role that design and applied arts are playing in the rebirth of the city.
Since 2011, ERA’s Scott Weir has been a mentor with DC3 and is actively working to build bridges between the creative communities of Toronto and Detroit. Stay tuned for future developments in this and other projects in Detroit-Windsor.
Recently, Toronto urbanist and OCAD U instructor Shawn Micalleff brought his “Cities for People” students to attend a presentation by ERA’s Graeme Stewart.
Following some local history and international context, Graeme explained ERA’s position on Tower Renewal, a project we’ve been working on with United Way and the City of Toronto. Using a combination of imagination, research, advocacy, legislation, and on-the-ground action, Tower Renewal works to create positive change in Toronto’s tower-block neighbourhoods.
As Toronto continues to grow and develop, we consider it essential to engage the city’s youth and University students in the principals that anchor Tower Renewal: equity, opportunity, cultural heritage, sustainability, and quality of life.
Thanks to Shawn Micallef and his students for their attention, enthusiasm, and excellent questions. If you’d like to learn more about this project, please have a look at our Tower Renewal blog and Publications page.
Recently Alana Young and Andrew Pruss returned from Brigus, Newfoundland where they worked with a group of Ryerson students to study the interaction of culture, place, history, and landscape. This project was part of an ongoing initiative by ERA and Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R) called Culture of Outports, which investigates how architectural thinking can help re-imagine changing economies and cultures.
For more information and detailed documentation of the Brigus project, please see CUG+R’s website.
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.
On Thursday, June 7th, we got together with Torontonians at Fort York to reflect on the city and toast its built and cultural environments, past and future. Close to 1000 guests joined us in enjoying great food, drink, dancing, and stimulating discussion about the place we live.
Thank you very much, all who attended – we look forward to seeing you again.
ERA’s Andrew Prussand Alana Younghave just arrived in Brigus, Newfoundland, which, dating from 1612, is one of the oldest European settlements in North America. Over the next two weeks, they will lead a “culture lab” with a group of Ryerson University students, collaborating with local residents to reflect on the site’s past and future. This lab examines local culture, built forms, and geography to imagine how architectural thinking can propose innovative ways to manage change and build community.
Lara Herald, a project landscape architect at ERA, was recently invited to speak with Matt Galloway on CBC’s Metro Morning regarding the future of Toronto’s Ontario Place.
A cluster of three artificial islands on Toronto’s waterfront, Ontario Place was launched in 1971 as an affordable and varied summer destination. Its attractions have over time included a simulated mine, a wilderness adventure ride, a World War II Destroyer, a concert venue, an IMAX theatre, a marina, a waterpark, and, of course, various places to walk, rest, eat, and drink.
Last Saturday ERA Architects participated in a Doors Open tour organized by Toronto Society of Architects. Doors Open is an annual opportunity for the public to visit places and spaces of historic, cultural, or architectural interest. This year ERA opened its doors and was very pleased to host a wide range of interested visitors, from ten-year-old aspiring architects to experienced designers and city builders. Together we looked at and discussed a range of project documentation, from archival photos of historic sites to new design and planning projects abroad. We also got to hear a lot of fascinating ideas about community building, inclusive design, and bio-technology, to name just a few. Thanks to all who came to the office and shared their time with us. Continue Reading This Post
Crowd the Schoolhouse, a short film inspired by the evolution and regeneration of the Evergreen Brickworks site (a project in ERA’s portfolio), recently received two awards at the International Documentary Challenge. Each film must be 5 minutes long, filmed within the same five days at the beginning of March, and based on the theme of “cycles.” The entry by team Made-in-Toronto received the award for best writing and Best Use of Genre (Social Issue/Political). Congratulations!
Recently ERA welcomed to our office special guest Alan Dudeck, an urban planner, project manager, realtor, and member of the Toronto Preservation Board. He came to speak to us about his experience of an exciting period in the early 1970s when urban planning became community planning.
On Sunday May 6th, ERA principal Michael McClelland joined Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and 75 interested participants on a Jane’s Walk in Toronto’s downtown east. Named for legendary urbanist and author Jane Jacobs, Jane’s Walks occur all over the world in the name of promoting urban literacy and community involvement in local urban environments.
On Saturday May 5th, ERA principal Michael McClelland joined Ken and Eti Greenberg to take a group of 65 participants on a Jane’s Walk in the heart of Toronto. Named for legendary urbanist Jane Jacobs, Jane’s Walks occur all over the world in the name of promoting urban literacy and the involvement of community in urban development.
Jane Jacobs’ critical writing and thinking has radically changed the way urban planning is practiced in North America. Her practice was clearly important to Ken and Eti Greenberg, whose work has also had a dramatic effect on downtown neighbourhoods in Toronto and elsewhere. Continue Reading This Post
As we have mentioned previously on this blog, ERA Architects is collaborating with ArchiTEXT and Sustainable.TO on the exciting Community.Design.Initiative at East Scarborough Storefront. Over the course of an intensive 19-week mentorship semester we worked with community youth on the design of a kitchen garden and patio, a unique green-roof pavilion, a bee and butterfly garden, and a small orchard. Summer and fall 2012 will see further collaboration with the community as we move toward construction of this dynamic new environment.
E.R.A. Architects is pleased to announce its participation in Friends of Allan Gardens (FOAG), a group of neighbours and citizens concerned with actively promoting the vitality of Allan Gardens park. This volunteer group’s mission is to revitalize the park through creative strategies that will improve open spaces, nurture local culture and attract a larger and more diverse group of users.
With 736,775, we’ve now surpassed the Old City of Toronto’s peak population in 1971 (it dipped by 100,000 in the 70s and 80s) - but we now have significantly more dwellings. (The old City being the pre-amalgamation municipality of Toronto, roughly bounded by Eglinton, the Humber, and Victoria Park).
Doing a little calculation a la Density Exhibit, this makes the Old City roughly 76 people per hectare. As comparison, San Fransisco, with a population of 805,235 (in the official central area municipality, not the larger Bay area), has a density of 66 pph, Atlanta a density of 12 pph, and Paris has a density of 209 pph.
Another delicious bake-off was held in the ERA office last week. This time the challenge was laid down by newcomer to the office Julie Tyndorf, to three time winner Sydney Martin. There was added scandal when an anonymous entry mysteriously appeared on the table. Who won?
Starting in January 2012, ERA and partners ArchiTEXT and Sustainable.TO have been leading the 5th semester of the Storefront’s Community.Design.Initiative (CDI), a weekly mentorship program for youth in the Kingston – Galloway – Orton Park (KGO) neighbourhood of East Scarborough.
This semester the team is working with the youth to design a shade and naturalization strategy for the Storefront landscape, to be constructed during summer and fall 2012. Funded through a Live Green Toronto grant, the project will feature two shade structures, a demonstration kitchen garden and patio outside of the Storefront’s soon to be completed Eco Food Hub, new tree plantings, a bee and butterfly pollination garden, and water harvesting for irrigating the existing community garden.
In the spirit of demonstrating the potential of designing with salvaged and recycled construction materials, the team made arrangements with Migrating Landscapes to deliver a whole bunch of wood to the site when their exhibit closed at Brookfield Place in early March. Thanks to Migrating Landscapes for their very generous donation. The spirit of their exhibit will live on in East Scarborough for many years to come.
The former Canadian Bank of Commerce building at 197 Yonge Street, since abandoned for 25 years, is set to become the focus of a major redevelopment effort led by MOD Developments in collaboration with ERA. Redevelopment will see the restoration and integration of the existing stone edifice at the foot of a new mixed-use tower designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects.
The illustrious stone frontispiece, designed in 1905 by Darling and Pearson, stands as a wonderful example of turn-of-the-century Beaux Arts classicism in Toronto. To this day (and in spite of its long derelict status) the building manages to turn the heads of city-dwellers and tourists alike. Over the coming months ERA will oversee the gradual transformation of this widely revered local landmark into a grand lobby space for the new residential development.
Though many of the interior spaces have been altered significantly over the years, there is still much inside to be celebrated — from the raised wood paneling and carved oak cornice lines in the front lobby, to the intricately detailed plaster ceilings in the office spaces; things are definitely looking up for this long neglected piece of the city.
Matt Galloway with Priti from the NBF’s HIGHRISE, Image Courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada
This week CBC’s Metro Morning is taking to the Kipling strip north of Finch to talk tower renewal, in an area of aging concrete towers that were typical all across Toronto during the early 1950s and ’60s.
On Wednesday, February 15th Graeme Stewart will appear for an interview on Metro Morning’s live broadcast from the Rexdale building at 2667 Kipling. This building is also the focus of the NFB’s HIGHRISE documentary, One Millionth Tower.