Monday, September 24
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
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.