In the spring of 2017, Casey House moved into the Victorian-era house restored by ERA Architects with an addition designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects, giving us space to serve more community members.

The 58,000ft² glass stone and brick facility offers privacy, sunlight, space for conversation and room for group activities. The renovation and extension was designed to evoke warmth, safety, comfort and infection control.

The heritage house

The heritage-designated mansion was built in 1875. Commissioned by clothing manufacturer William R. Johnston, co-owner of Livingston, Johnston and Company, it was designed and built by prominent Toronto architects Langley, Langley & Burke, who were also responsible for the Royal Conservatory of Music on Bloor Street. A twin of the house built on the lot to the south for Johnston’s business partner L. Livingston has since been demolished.

The centre-hall plan brick house is a notable example of late 19th century residential architecture and a reminder of the affluence and grandeur of Jarvis Street at that time. Notable architectural features include:

  • Stone foundation, brick construction and brick and stone trim
  • Decorative cast iron and sandstone fence
  • Hipped roof with dormers
  • Three storey tower flanked by faceted pilasters
  • Central bay on front façade
  • A mixture of bay, round-headed, square-headed and fanlight windows

Johnston lived in the house with his family until 1916. Architect Gordon West converted the residence into offices in 1941, when it became the national headquarters of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). The YWCA owned the property until 1970. In 1983, Grey Lady Corporation took over the residence, giving the house its nickname, the grey lady. In 2000, Casey House acquired the property and used it for office space for a few years before the restoration, which started alongside construction in 2015.

ERA Architects meticulously restored the Jarvis St. house while making the space usable for both clinical and administrative work. The original front foyer floor tiles were restored, including the Greek key border. The detailed wood floor in the TD living room on the north side of the house and the ceiling in the Faas family learning centre south west of the staircase are beautiful examples of original features. And, the grand staircase is a heritage feature that was preserved, as was the barrel-vaulted ceiling above it.

The contemporary addition

Architect Siamak Hariri’s inspiration for the addition was an ‘embrace’, the new portion wraps around the heritage house like Casey House’s wrap-around care. He also ensured that sunlight could penetrate to the deeper reaches of the building without breaching the privacy of clients.

Inspired by Casey House’s quilts, which are sewn in memory of those who have died in our care, Hariri integrated a patchwork theme throughout the space and on the exterior.

The two-sided fireplace features limestone from Owen Sound, polished and unpolished slabs are repeated in features throughout the hospital.
The bricks on the south wall of the interior courtyard are from the coach house that stood at the east end of the property and was torn down to make room for the new facility.

“This courtyard is a fundamental part of the design and is the heart of the facility, visible from every corridor and each inpatient room. Through operable windows that allow for fresh air and cross-ventilation, every inpatient client can enjoy an unobstructed garden view from their bed. The windows flood patient spaces with natural light and provide a connection to the outside world, making the hospital feel like a home.” Hariri Pontarini

Sustainable design elements include high efficiency tinted glass, rainwater collection cisterns and locally sourced materials.


The building has received multiple awards in recognition of its design and respect for client welfare, including:

  • Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC): 2018 Governor General Medal in Architecture; and 2020 National Urban Design Award of Excellence
  • Lieutenant Governor’s 2017 Ontario Heritage Award for excellence in conservation;
  • Canadian Architect Magazine’s 2013 Award of Excellence;
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA) Institute’s 2019 Honor Award for Architecture.
  • Ontario Association of Architects’ 2018 Design Excellence Award