A much-needed extension and addition for a specialized healthcare facility serving those living with HIV/AIDS, Toronto’s Casey House represents a new prototype for hospitals. Over 10 years in the making, it meets the needs of its patients and their providers in a setting designed to evoke the comforts of home.
Adding 59,000 square feet of space to an existing heritage-designated Victorian mansion, the design team implemented a new Day Health Program to serve 200 registered clients through 14 new inpatient rooms. The new structure embraces the 1875 mansion, nicknamed “the Grey Lady,” and organizes the user experience around a landscaped courtyard, visible from every corridor and room.
Unifying themes of warmth, intimacy, privacy, and solidarity are evident in the design, which drew inspiration from the AIDS Memorial Quilt and its symbolic expression of the battle against the disease. In its vertical and horizontal planes, the project’s architecture is a physical manifestation of an embrace. The extension reaches over and around the mansion, which was updated and renovated, while the addition surrounds the courtyard.
Maintaining the original character of Toronto’s Jarvis Street, the addition juxtaposes the old and the new. Its brick, tinted mirrored glass, and limestone façade echo a patchwork quilt, while a garden surrounded by a beech hedge offers space for contemplation. Inside, the welcoming spaces are familiar, deftly straddling institutional and residential. The heritage building’s brick is exposed in the living room, a central gathering space that boasts a two-story atrium anchored by a full-height fireplace of Algonquin limestone. A second-floor bridge connecting both spaces offers end-to-end views.
Staying true to the client’s mission and ideals, the team was able to channel the compassionate legacy of Casey House founder June Callwood in every detail. The warmth and caring that has always found in Casey House’s staff is now expressed by the building itself.