Snider House

Glass State: A New Life for Snider House

The Snider House, built in 1828, is the oldest surviving home in North Toronto. William Snider and his family were newly arrived to North Toronto and owned a large plot of land adjacent to the then very different Yonge Street, which was primarily farmland. While the Sniders’ original land was subdivided to make way for several neighboring residential streets, it remains an extraordinary lot with the house sitting deeply set back from the street and a wraparound driveway.

Charged with the design of a major addition/restoration/renovation of the remarkable Snider House, it was important that the original architecture was not only restored but was also elevated to a new contemporary standard, and prepared for the next 200 years. In this regard, the idea of the home as an amalgamation of experiences, the addition of new pieces, sections, and iterations, is an important part of the design vision.

While the property of Duplex Avenue runs perpendicular to the road, the masonry box of the house itself is skewed slightly towards Yonge Street. This prompted the idea to address this misalignment with the new addition. The addition includes an added two-storey extension with a glass curtain wall to the existing 2‑storey (plus attic) original structure, as well as extensive remodeling and reshaping of the site. The blending of new and old is an exercise in juxtaposition, where the formal/axial design of the heritage home in front will be adjusted with the organic form and modern materiality of the rear addition.

Manufactured in Spain, the curtain wall on the addition will be rendered with gravity-curved glass, made on a hot sand bed, to achieve the unique rounded shape. The glass forms two “ribbons” which act like layers, wrapping the rear elevation of the masonry box in an interactive form that is playful but controlled. The rear addition opens to a large outdoor deck which will become a primary entertaining space, with stepped amphitheater-like seating to the ground level. A large, above-ground pool is designed to appear carved out of the landscape, clad in aluminum in the rear of the lot. Running the back of the property is a lenticular screen fence made of triangular aluminum that will blend with the trees surrounding the property line for added privacy.

Parti diagram for glass veil around existing house.

To further preserve the integrity of the heritage envelope, close attention was paid to the science of building systems, reinforcing the masonry to be watertight and heatproof to ensure the original home both looks and performs well. The interior will be a productive blend of modern and expressive elements, with indulgent central spaces on the ground floor. Rich textures lean towards warm, soft materials that sit in contrast to the dramatic reflectivity of the curved glass.

Interior of the Great Room showing a glimpse of the masonry wall corner.

While the ribbons or wrappers of glass are designed to embrace the masonry box with a lightness and seamlessness, there are also ‘peek-a-boo’ moments that create a unique detail of the old and new combining. There are many examples of this, the best being on the south elevation where the millwork wraps around and becomes an enclave joining with the curtain wall, so that the original corner of Snider House is put on display.

This element demonstrates the intensity of experience that Snider House aims to create with the emotive stitching of old and new architectures.

Project Facts

  • Client


  • Location

    Toronto, Ontario

  • Size

    7,300 sq.ft

  • Status

    Under Construction

  • Sub-Consultant Team

    Structural — Cucco Engineering + Design

    Mechanical — ZAAB Consulting

    Heritage — ERA Architects Inc.

  • General Contractor

    THL Construction Management

  • Renderings

    Office In Search Of

  • Photography

    Jody Cash
    Scott Nosworthy