General Abstract

Concrete Toronto

Monday, September 24
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: BNCC-106AD

Michael McClelland, ERA Architects
Examples of Brutalism and modern concrete architecture have often been overlooked or maligned by critics and the public. Recent efforts have been made to reevaluate the role of these buildings within our urban landscapes in order to create a new appreciation of their forms and materials. This presentation will examine the evolution of taste within the field of architecture and public opinion.

The question, which is broader than the question of the appreciation of Brutalism, is why are some buildings appreciated and others are not. Why do people like some buildings and dislike others? To describe the parameters of this debate this presentation will examine the work of Juan Pablo Bonta who, in his Architecture and Its Interpretation, describes the phases of architectural evaluation from a period of blindness to a period of iconic recognition.

A second positioning of this presentation will be to discuss an overview of the work of Pierre Bourdieux who, in his work Distinction, discusses the roles of class, habitus and cultural production, as an evolving process to which practitioners can contribute. The discussion of these two authors will be used to show how it is possible for architects to actively engage in the activity of cultural production – a discussion that again affects the larger field of heritage conservation generally.

Graeme Stewart, ERA Architects
Toronto has a unique modernist apartment tower legacy. While often overlooked, these buildings have become one of the city’s most valuable housing assets. This presentation will trace the formation of the Tower Renewal project in Toronto, from its initial stages to its current activities.

From both a planning and built form perspective Toronto’s inner suburbs were constructed at the height of 1960s, 70s and 80s modernism and they represent the legacy of ideas, architecture, and trades imported from Europe during the wave of post-war immigration.

In recent decades, these modernist suburbs have encountered major challenges. Faced with issues such as deteriorating quality and poor energy performance, a lack of social and urban infrastructure and a disconnected relationship to today’s planning process.

The Tower Renewal Partnership works through research, advocacy, and demonstration toward the transformation of postwar apartment towers and their surrounding neighbourhoods into more sustainable, resilient and healthy places, fully integrated into their growing cities.

Recent policy research and advocacy has helped to create a ‘Repair and Renewal’ stream within Canada’s new National Housing Strategy, allocating $6.6B toward the preservation and improvement of this critical affordable housing, much of which is found within apartment towers built in the postwar years.

The Tower Renewal Partnership (TRP) is a multisectoral collaboration led by the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R), Maytree, Evergreen, United Way Greater Toronto and DKGI and it demonstrates the role architects can play in developing policy changes to effectively rehabilitate our everyday modernist environment.

Examples such as Concrete Toronto, or our recent guide map to Brutalist Toronto will be used as examples of this activist approach to architecture and heritage conservation.

Michael McClelland

ERA Architects Inc.

A registered architect and founding partner of ERA Architects, Michael McClelland (CAHP OAA FRAIC) specializes in heritage conservation, heritage planning and urban design. Having begun his career at the Toronto Historical Board, Michael works with a wide range of public and private stakeholders. Michael is the coordinating architect for the Distillery District and the heritage architect for a number of significant Toronto projects, including the Royal Ontario Museum. He has recently won awards for projects including the Broadview Hotel and the heritage conservation work for Casey House. Michael frequently contributes to the discourse surrounding heritage architecture, intangible cultural heritage, and landscape architecture in Canada. He has taught at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University, published numerous articles, and served as an editor for several publications and books, including The Ward Uncovered: Archaeology of Everyday Life (2018), The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood (2015), and Concrete Toronto (2007). He has received numerous awards and honours, including recognition from the Ontario Association of Architects and the Toronto Society of Architects for his contribution to the built environment and the profession of architecture.


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Graeme Stewart

ERA Architects Inc.

Graeme Stewart is a registered Architect and Planner. In these roles Graeme has overseen the successful implementation of several complex heritage planning, urban design and architectural projects, including numerous feasibility studies. Graeme’s international research and thesis work was instrumental in founding the Tower Renewal Project; an initiative in modern heritage and regional sustainability examining the future of Toronto’s remarkable stock of modern tower neighbourhoods with the City of Toronto, Province of Ontario, University of Toronto, and other partners.

Graeme is also the co-editor of Concrete Toronto: A Guidebook to Concrete Architecture from the Fifties to the Seventies. He is a regular lecturer in the Toronto Area’s Universities and Colleges and has been a sessional instructor at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto. Graeme is a founding director of the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R), an urban research organization formed by ERA and planningAlliance in 2009. In 2010, he was recipient of an RAIC National Urban Design Award for his ongoing research and design work related to Tower Renewal.


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Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C

Barbara A. Campagna/Architecture + Planning, PLLC

Barbara is an architect, planner and historian – reinventing and restoring historic and existing buildings. She is the recipient of the National AIA Young Architect of the Year Award 2002 and was elevated to Fellowship in the AIA in 2009 as “the leading national architect and policymaker for the integration of preservation values into green building practices.” Barbara has completed the restorations of some of the most significant National Historic Landmarks in the country and is a recognized leader in the preservation and modernization of modern heritage. She ran her own architecture firm for many years in New York City, served as the Regional Preservation Officer for the Northwest Region of the General Services Administration and from 2006-2011 was the Chief Architect for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Barbara’s firm, BAC/A+P, occupies a unique niche in both the historic preservation and green building fields. She is the Chair of the APT 2018 50th Anniversary Conference and was the APT President from 2005-2007.


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