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