Impeccable architecture meets an urgent cause in Toronto’s Casey House, a modernization of Canada’s first standalone care centre for patients with HIV/AIDS. The project won the 2018 AZ Award for Social Good.
When Canada’s first standalone care centre dedicated to HIV/AIDS opened in 1988, it was imagined to be temporary. Yet, 30 years later the need for Casey House is more complex than ever. Treatment has come a long way, but there is still a stigma associated with the disease.
An old Victorian on Toronto’s Isabella Street is now the anchor for the hospital that accommodates 200 day-program clients and 14 in-patient rooms. Local firm Hariri Pontarini worked with heritage specialists ERA Architects to revive the red brick mansion, bringing it back to its former grandeur. Then the firm annexed a narrow glass volume onto it, adding another 5,481 square metres.
Casey House is really good architecture that’s tackling an important cause. Its craftsmanship just ties everything together.” – Michel Rojkind
The three-storey addition embraces the original building, reaching around and over it to provide a welcoming entrance. In fact, the entire building exudes a sense of warmth, most notably from a central courtyard that the rooms face out onto, so those who can’t get outside have a view of honey locust trees and a water feature. Tinted mirror windows adds a layer of privacy.
The interior is a mix of dark walnut and chunky limestone; on the exterior, limestone and bricks combine to create a patchwork facade that mimics a quilt, a symbol frequently associated with the fight against HIV/AIDS. Here, the symbol represents perfectly what the architects envisioned for Casey House: a safe haven that offers the support of a hospital and the comfort of home.
Hariri Pontarini Architects, Toronto, Canada
Siamak Hariri, Michael Boxer, Jeff Strauss, Edward Joseph, Howard Wong, Cara Kedzior, Rico Law, Andria Fong, John Cook
ERA Architects (Heritage Consultant), Entuitive (Structural Consultant), WSP Canada (Mechanical and Electrical Consultant), Mark Hartley Landscape Architect (Landscape Architect), David Hine Engineering (Code Consultant), Swallow (Acoustics), Mulvey & Banani (Security), Kaizen Foodservice Planning (Food Service)