2008 04 25
AGO Awards First $50k Grange Prize For Photography

Sarah Anne Johnson, a Winnipeg based artist, has won the AGO's first Grange Prize for Photography. In keeping with the AGO's new strategy of increasingly involving the community in its programming choices, Johnson won a people's choice selection driven by online voting. Almost 3,000 votes were tallied in the process.

Last night's announcement took place at the Drake Hotel. The Grange Prize is sponsored by the AGO, the Globe and Mail, and Aeroplan.

Here are two samples of Johnson's work:


[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 04/25
2008 04 23
ERA To Green China’s Towers
Every once in a while Reading Toronto reposts a previous entry because history catches up with the topic. CBC radio announced this morning that ERA Architects will be advising a city in China on how to reduce the energy use of its residential towers. This success is the evolution of a thesis project by Graeme Stewart that was first published in Reading Toronto about two year ago. Here is the original:


By Graeme Stewart

There has been much talk in recent months of Toronto’s strategies for a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emission. Incredibly welcome news, there seems to be a flood gate of creative strategies for seriously combating climate change. Not yet part of the discussion however is the opportunity inherent within Toronto’s extensive stock of hundreds of bulky concrete residential slabs. Typically viewed with scepticism as ‘mistakes’ from the 60’s and 70’s, they may in fact be one of our greatest opportunities for creating a sustainable region.

These buildings are energy pigs. Counterintuitive to the accepted theory that density aids sustainability, our stock of again modern slab apartments demands more energy per square meter than any other housing type; a full thirty percent more than a contemporary single detached house. Though certain efficiencies are gained from reduced land coverage, transit use and the like, exposed slab edges, minimal insulation, single glazing and aging mechanical systems give these buildings a huge environmental impact.

As a result, a typical twenty five-storey slab building contributes more than one thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide alone. These buildings demand environmental consideration, and due to their relatively straight forward structure and boxy facades, environmental upgrade can be achieved with relative ease. This has not been lost of two members of U of T’s Faculty of Architecture, Dr. Ted Kesik and Ivan Saleff. After running numerous simulations, they have concluded that this building type may be the most cost effective candidate for retrofit in the City.

While glass window walls are the cladding fad of the day, the bulky masonry walls of these older slabs offer an ideal surface to support over-cladding systems. This approach extensively insulates the exterior of the buildings, encloses balconies and covers slab edges, which is predicted to halve energy requirements. Additionally, these buildings provide an economy of scale that makes geothermal heating, solar electric/water heating (locating panels on generous blank end walls), and green roof technology highly effective investments. These strategies would give the opportunity for carbon reductions of over two thirds the current output. In other words, a hundred and eighty unit apartment building would require less green house gas production than fifty traditional bungalows. Suddenly density begins to make sense.

These aging buildings offer endless opportunities for green modification. Containing the structural capacity to handle the addition of new floors, the buildings themselves could be the launching pad for (appropriate) intensification. By design, the concrete walls create the necessary fire separations to allow for mixed use, anything from at-grade retail, office conversion, to light industry.

And opportunities abound beyond (...read more...)
[email this story] Posted by G Stewart on 04/23
2008 04 21
Dodging The TTC Strike Bullet
If you forgot to breath a deep sigh of relief that the TTC union chose not to go on strike, here is a Reading Toronto exclusive from their last work stoppage that may generate one:

Just in case you wondered what Toronto would be like without its transit system, the TTC union gave us a reminder yesterday. Watch a seven minute cell phone cam view of stalled traffic on Gerrard Street between River and Yonge, at 10 Monday morning.

[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 04/21
2008 04 20
Why I Support a TTC Strike

Have you ever walked a picket line? If you have, then you know the camaraderie that can emerge, the rare sense of standing for a common principle. You also know the tedium that develops after days or weeks, broken occasionally by violence or news from the bargaining table. If you've walked a picket line you're also familiar with the costs: physical and emotional exhaustion, the often irrecoverable hit to your income, the impact on labour relations, and perhaps above all, the costs to the people affected by the strike -- coworkers, the public, and all the other institutions and individuals whose activities are derailed as the result of a strike.

If the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), representing nine thousand TTC workers, acts on the strike mandate given to it by its members, then tomorrow morning at 4:00 am the TTC will cease to operate. No subways or buses will run. The stations will be shuttered. The 1.5 million people who rely on the TTC to get to work or school will be forced to find other ways of commuting on roads choked with cars, bicycles and pedestrians.

Media reports have focused on the inconvenience a strike will cause for commuters. This morning's Toronto Star headline blares, provocatively, "Is TTC an Essential Service?" Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has muttered obliquely that the Province may introduce legislation to make it so, and indicated more coherently that back-to-work legislation would likely bring a quick end -- although perhaps not within a week or two -- to any strike action. Mayor David Miller, being feted all week in China, is staying -- at least publicly -- out of the fray. That's not a surprise: in the coming months he's got even bigger negotiations looming with the two huge CUPE locals representing tens of thousands of city staff, and isn't likely to show his hand unless forced to do so.

I don't buy any of these claims. I don't find "inconvenience" a legitimate reason to oppose a strike, nor do I consider it adequate justification have a service declared essential. I find the Mayor's self-imposed absence from the bargaining table reprehensible, especially at a time when he should be doing everything possible to broker a settlement. I am ambivalent about back-to-work legislation, but acknowledge its value if (and only if) a strike or lockout goes on so long that the public interest becomes genuinely compromised.

The right to strike is one of the most fundamental labour rights. It is -- like the right to join a union and bargain collectively -- enshrined in the Ontario Labour Relations Act. A strike is a legally protected course of action when, after the term of a collective agreement has expired, properly conducted negotiations do not produce a new one. Unions may go on strike only if a strike vote is held and only if the majority of those voting support a strike.

In the case of the TTC workers represented by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, the collective agreement (...read more...)
[email this story] Posted by Amy Lavender Harris on 04/20
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