Altius Architecture: Bringing a Midcentury Modern into the 21st Century


It is a depressing litany on TreeHugger, the stunning house by Paul Rudolph or another great modernist torn down because the kitchen wasn't big enough or the windows were crappy or it just wasn't big enough to satisfy the need for a closet as big as a bedroom and a bedroom as big as a living room. Our needs have changed but our wants have changed more.

So it was wonderful to see at the Twenty+Change exhibition a classic house by a great Toronto modernist renovated and extended rather than the usual blow-it-away and do a monstrous faux chateau.

It was originally designed by John B. Parkin, architect of modernist icons like the fabulous Toronto airport (just demolished after forty years of incremental picking away) and Bata Shoe Headquarters (on its way out as the Aga Kahn moves in), working with Mies Van der Rohe on the Toronto Dominion Centre and other great buildings, including a number of terrific houses.


For this Parkin house on the edge of a ravine in Rosedale, the place to live in Toronto if you have got the bucks and want to walk to Holt Renfrew, Toronto's Altius Architects worked out a "substantially revised program that accommodates the new occupants and reacts with sensitivity to the original design intent. Alterations include a greening of the existing building’s envelope and mechanical systems, new green roofs, a second storey addition, new interiors, improvements to the building’s exterior spaces, and a restoration of the ravine property."

Some would say it is not the house it was but at least it is still there. Congratulations to ::Altius Architecture.

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