Canadian Architect


Casey House

December 1, 2013
by Canadian Architect

ARCHITECT Hariri Pontarini Architects
LOCATION Toronto, Ontario

The expansion and renovation of Casey House, a specialized health-care facility for patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, has initiated a re-examination of the changing nature of this socially stigmatized disease. This project’s design embodies the contemporary needs of patients and health-care providers while providing a home-like user experience for all.

The project will establish a strong presence for Casey House along the Jarvis streetscape, retaining the heritage character of the street while providing much needed additional space for clients and staff in a welcoming environment.

Rather than assume the form of a standard hospital/hospice, the design team worked closely with the client to first understand the contemporary needs of the patients and health-care providers. With a firm grasp of those needs came the desire to also create a comfortable user experience. Through extensive consultation and research, the metaphor of embrace emerged as a unifying theme–one of warmth, intimacy, comfort, privacy, connectivity and solidity.Referring to the goals of Casey House, it also describes the design of the architectural form, the user experience and the atmosphere in the building itself.

The project is a physical manifestation of an embrace in both the vertical and horizontal planes; the new four-storey, 58,000-square-foot extension reaching over and around the existing three-storey heritage-designated Victorian mansion, and the new addition surrounding a fully glazed garden courtyard at the centre of the building, visible from every corridor.

As one of the original mansions to be built along Jarvis Street, the retention of the existing 1875 building (known colloquially as the “Grey Lady”) will maintain the original character of the street, while the addition introduces a dignified juxtaposition of the old and new. Emphasizing the relationship between the two, the heritage building’s brick will remain exposed in the Living Room–the new central gathering space, while a bridge will connect them on the second floor. The mass of the third and fourth floors of the addition hover around and above the Grey Lady to allow direct sunlight into the Living Room, providing warmth to this important shared space. The careful restoration will also provide Casey House with key administrative and outpatient facilities.

Fundamental to the design of the project is the inner courtyard from which all other spaces emanate. This outdoor space allows direct sunlight into the core of the building on all floors. Given the private nature of the facility, it provides protected outdoor space for users, as well as transparency and clear sightlines across the project. The courtyard is also visible from each of the 14 private bedrooms (12 regular care and two respite beds) on the third floor.

Medical advances made over the years have drastically changed the treatment and life expectancy of patients with HIV/AIDS. As a result, the spectrum of services offered by Casey House has broadened beyond palliative care and counselling; their Day Health program has become a significant part of their remit. In order to streamline the traffic brought on by this diversification, private, semi-private and public floors were established and program elements organized accordingly. This ensures the privacy of the inpatients located on the top floor from the daily traffic of the outpatient facilities on the second floor (which services a roster of 200 registered clients), while the ground floor remains a shared open space for all.

The quilt is inextricably linked to AIDS as a symbol of the disease. As if to wrap the building, this relationship was taken up to resolve the façade. Reclaimed brick, tinted mirrored glass and crust-faced limestone will line the exterior of the new addition and have been chosen to mimic the texture and variety of the quilt. Their syncopated rhythm along the façade belies the purposeful placement of the slit windows of the inpatient rooms which align with the sightlines of clients lying in their beds.

Several sustainable features were inherently related to clients’ health care and overall comfort. Thus, they were seamlessly integrated into the design. For instance, primarily private green spaces, such as the courtyard and roof garden, can be enjoyed by patients, and high-efficiency tinted glass ensures privacy from the street, protecting users from UV rays and infrared while minimizing heat gain. The courtyard and operable windows allow for cross ventilation for fresh air and temperature control. Bike racks, rainwater collection cisterns and locally sourced and reclaimed materials also add to the sustainability profile of the project.

By focusing on the user experience, the design for Casey House has transformed their operations, enabling them to provide and deliver the best care possible to all Casey House clients. The new building integrates seamlessly with the neighbourhood while offering a warm, safe and welcoming environment with privacy, mobility, flexibility, accessibility and control.

KM: The new addition is a simple but sophisticated backdrop that reinforces the heritage character of the existing house. The imaginative way in which the architects have organized the spaces facing into the interior courtyard is very contemplative, peaceful and respectful of the residents.

MM: This is a pragmatic use of the long urban site. Maximizing the footprint by going edge to edge and including a courtyard is a thoughtful move that reinforces both edges and maximizes the spaces within. The commitment to the respite and visual release of a single-loaded corridor is very responsive to the program. There is a meditative, spiritual quality to this building. It’s compassionate architecture that responds to the heritage context with an addition that is decidedly modern.

MS: I think this is a phenomenal project. The lantern element is massed three-dimensionally to engage the heritage house. Compositionally, it’s a tripartite building where the addition is a shifted Cartesian addition to the existing building. There’s also a complete clarity of intention in the materiality and composition of the façade that is no longer about commodity baseline systems.

Client Casey House
Architect Team Siamak Hariri, Michael Boxer, Edward Joseph, Doron Meinhard, Howard Wong, Jeff Strauss, Patrick Cox, Rico Law, Eric Tse, John Cook, Faisal Bashir, Cara Kedzior, Norberto Rodriguez, Jimmy Cho, Christopher Laycock, Jimmy Farrington, Abdollah Tabrizi
Structural CH2MHILL
Mechanical/electrical MMM Group
Landscape Hariri Pontarini Architects, Mark Hartley Landscape Architects
Interiors Hariri Pontarini Architects
Planning and Urban Design Urban Strategies
HERITAGE E.R.A. Architects
Sustainable Design Enermodal Engineering
Health-Care Programming KG Healthcare Consultants
Audio-Visual Engineering Harmonics
Acoustics Swallow Acoustics Consultants Ltd.
Food Service Kaizen Food Service Planning and Design Inc.
Code David Hine Engineering Inc.
Building Envelope R. Kendall Consulting Inc.
Costing Hanscomb Consultants Ltd.
Elevators KJA Consultants Inc.
Traffic and Parking BA Consulting Group Ltd.
Area 6,090 m2
Budget $36 M
Completion 2016

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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