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Math professor Dr. James Stewart, who is also a former violinist with the Hamilton Symphony Orchestra near Toronto, Ontario, has made millions writing calculus textbooks. When he decided to spend most of his fortune on a residence, he could have used any architect anywhere in the world.
Instead of an international star, he selected the then-relatively unknown pair, Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe of Shim Sutcliffe to create his residence in a ravine in the posh Toronto neighborhood of Rosedale.
Stewart was not looking to build just a residence, though. He also wanted a private concert hall and lots of curves. Other than that, he gave the architects unprecedented and probably never-to-be-repeated freedom. No schedule, and no design restrictions.
A decade after the initial discussions with Shim and Sutcliffe, the $24 million US, 18,000-square-foot Integral House was completed. It does, indeed, have a multitude of seductive curves, massive amounts of floor to ceiling glass and a spectacular staircase. And, Dr. Stewart now gives concerts and throws parties and costume balls in his 150-seat concert hall.
The house exudes a patina, a classic semi-Scandinavian simplicity that makes it seem older, more established and mature than a brash, brand-new house. There’s a lovely sense of dynamism as well, as if the building were in motion, rolling along ever so slowly, or perhaps just coming to stillness after a long architectural journey.
The fantastic staircase is really a commissioned work of art, a collaboration between the architects, glass artist Mimi Gellman, and structural engineer David Bowick. It is constructed of hand-blown blue glass rectangles that are supported by cast bronze clips and stainless steel cables.
The house has already been on the Architectural Digest annual Toronto tour and it has become a part of the city’s must-see architecture. In a Wall Street Journal article, Glenn D. Lowry, director of New York's Museum of Modern Art, was quoted as saying: "I think it's one of the most important private houses built in North America in a long time. Tuija Seipell
Toronto’s latest TA-ZE store, at 120 Adelaide Street West, is only 800 square feet in size, but it is airy and uncluttered. TA-ZE is a chain of retail stores focusing on premium olive oils and related product.
Ta-ze means fresh in Turkish, and the company is rooted in the long traditions of olive-oil production. Its product comes from six provinces in the Aegean region of Turkey, from 33 co-operatives that include more than 28,000 olive producers.
The purity and clarity of the oil is reflected in the minimalist store concept designed by Toronto-based Burdifilek, led by managing partner Paul Filek, and creative partner Diego Burdi. They are also responsible for retail design for W Hotels, Holt Renfrew department stores, Club Monaco and Joe Fresh, among others. - Bill Tikos
Toronto’s funky, ever-evolving King West Village has just gained another interesting entrepreneurial tenant at the brand-new, 12-storey condo and townhouse project, Fashion House, at 556 King Street West.
The newcomer is Her Majesty’s Pleasure, a flexible concept by husband and wife, Jeff Armstrong and Sara Kardan. The sunny space functions as a hair, nail and beauty salon, a coffee and tea bar (during the day), a cocktail bar (at night), a shop, and even an event space, all tied together by a tightly controlled palette of colors (mainly black, white and wood) and materials.
The designer of Her Majesty’s Pleasure, John Tong of +Tongtong has created, among other notable spaces, also the re-incarnation of the interior of Toronto’s famed Queen Street West hotel, The Drake, dating back to 1890. - Tuija Seipell.