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Toronto is home to some of the most iconic architectures in Canada: the Canadian National Tower (CN Tower) has been included in the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, the eclectic glass and aluminum crystal Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), and the Toronto City Hall was inspired by the modernist architectural movement. While these structures take the center stage when talking about uniquely-designed buildings, the city’s residential design industry offers its own architectural wonders.
Contemporary, modern, and sustainably-designed residential spaces can be found across the city’s neighborhoods. These homes are touched not only by innovation but also by a spectrum of artistic and visionary tastes, all designed as a celebration of the harmonious union between form and function, a marriage between the structure and its landscape.
Below are 15 of the best residential architects and designers in Toronto. The firms were qualified based on the awards, publication features, certifications, and affiliations with the industry’s biggest organizations. Our editorial team also considered the abilities of the principals, the firm’s work history, its collective years of experience, the strength of its portfolio in the residential design category, and most importantly, the reviews and commendations that the firms received from clients and project owners.
This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.
Altius Architecture Inc.
1724 Queen St. W, Toronto, ON M6R 1B3
Contemporary designs, sustainable architecture, and over 20 years of experience make Altius Architecture one of the innovators in Ontario’s residential design scene. The firm’s practices focus on craftsmanship and materiality and the result is often award-winning work. Some of these projects have been recognized for their environmental responsibility. A 2018 ARIDO Awards, a Green Toronto: Environmental Award of Excellence, and the BOND Custom Top 100 Firms listing are just some of the commendations that it has received in recent years.
© Arnaud Mathoret, Revelateur Studio
Under the leadership of Cathy Garrido and Graham Smith, the company has completed over 450 projects, which used its architecture, interior design, landscape design, and construction management services. Sustainable building practices allow the firm to offer LEED-certified designs and Passive House certified homes.
One of the firm’s unforgettable projects is the Lakeview in the Beaches residence. The home was designed around its environment, and the result is a haven featuring clean, modern lines fused with a warm and welcoming cottage-style. Huge windows facing east, west, and south, effortlessly connect the interior to the outdoors.
264 Jane St. Toronto, ON M6S 3Z2
Before creating Batay-Csorba Architects in Canada, principals Jodi and Andrew Batay-Csorba managed, designed, and directed over 90 projects across 38 cities in eleven countries. That extensive background helped them establish a respected company capable of delivering transformative spatial experiences and “real spaces” that “engage people and place.”
The firm’s services include architectural and interior design, multimedia design, small-scale installations, graphic visualizations, and large-scale urban planning. Many of its works have been commended by publications and organizations. In 2015 and 2016, for instance, the firm won the Canadian Architect Awards. In 2018, it was a finalist in the OAA Design Excellence Awards.
In the area of residential design, the firm champions contemporary residential spaces that focus on functionality and practicality. Its Garden Rowhouse, for example, is a 2014 project located in Toronto. The 3,600-square foot home design was the firm’s answer to the city’s demand for an alternative housing typology, primarily catered to the aging demographic.
Bortolotto Design Architect Inc
4 Clinton Pl., Toronto, ON M6G 1J9
As a multi-awarded and nationally-renowned company, Bartolotto Design delivers complex, detailed, and progressive projects for a wide spectrum of markets. Tania Bartlotto founded the firm in 1999 and since then her accomplishments as a premier architect and interior designer have made her a leading figure in the region’s residential design scene.
One of the firm’s notable works can be found in the city’s Summerhill neighborhood. The Urban Ravine House is a 4000-square foot, four-story residential space. It was designed so that its interiors can interact with the surrounding environment. This allows dwellers to take advantage of the relaxing landscape just outside it. The home features two façades that face opposite directions. The side that faces the street carries its charming traditional design. The southern side, which is the rear, is connected to a beautiful ravine.
In 2012, the project was featured by Architectural Record, Contemporist, Freshome Design & Architecture, Toronto Star, and HomeDSGN. These papers focused on the home’s thoughtful design and the firm’s experience in incorporating different elements and methods to come up with a unique home with a nod to modern and traditional styles.
174 Bedford Rd. Suite #200, Toronto, ON M5R 2K9
Dwell, Passive House Canada, SAB Mag, House & Home, and The Globe and Mail featured many of Dewson Architect’s award-winning residential designs. A look at its portfolio includes styles that incorporate modern features such as massive windows, thin lines, and contrasting palettes into the classic elements of natural stone and wooden materials.
One of the firm’s most recent works is the Roxborough Street House. Just like many of its previous residential projects, the design is a celebration of modern and traditional techniques. The use of natural materials like wood, stone, and brick allows the home to exude a classic yet contemporary grandeur.
The firm’s endless design inspirations come from the extensive experience of its principal, William Dewson. Dewson is a licensed Ontario architect and a Member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (MRAIC). He established the company in 1996, and, under his leadership, the firm has completed numerous design projects that leave clients with a sense of excitement and fulfillment in their newly-formed spaces that celebrate function and aesthetic innovation.
Drew Mandel Architects
134 Peter St. Suite #1301, Toronto, ON M5V 2H2
In 2004 Drew Mandel founded his company. His vision: deliver high-quality modern designs that emphasize heritage sensitivity. As an accomplished professional, Mandel was recently inducted into the RAIC College of Fellows. As a principal, he has led the firm to dominance in the region’s residential and multi-residential markets.
© Peter A. Sellar / KLIK
Over the years, the Azure Magazine, Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), and many other organizations and publications have featured the company’s contributions to the residential design industry through design recognition, press features, and awards of excellence.
Residential projects that represent the owner’s needs, individuality, and style can be found in the firm’s portfolio. Regardless of the scale or complexity, the firm is able to deliver projects designed using an innovative process, characterized by careful control, and produced through an experienced familiarity with available materials. The Marlborough Avenue residence, for instance, is a slender, single-family residential infill project. The project was designed in a way that harmoniously connects the elements of the site, the sky, and its surrounding environment.
Dubbeldam Architecture + Design
142 Westmount Ave. 3rd Flr., Toronto, ON M6H 3K4
Innovative, context-specific, and environmentally-responsible designs dominate Dubbeldam’s portfolio. The firm is a multi-disciplinary studio that has been recognized internationally for its attention not only to aesthetically advanced architecture, but also to its sustainable and green design methods. These practices can be seen in the firm’s interior design and residential design projects.
Heather Dubbeldam heads the company’s team of design experts and support personnel. Aside from Dubbeldam’s architect license, she is also a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (FRAIC) and she is a LEED-accredited professional. The firm’s varied backgrounds and the principal’s reputation as a fourth-generation architect have created a competitive player in the Toronto design scene. The firm has consistently completed major residential homes that have caught the attention of award-giving bodies and renowned publications.
One of the firm’s most notable residential designs is the Skygarden House. Nestled among trees, the 2,400-square foot home was designed to connect the home to its natural environment. The project was the 2018 First Prize winner of the International Design Award. In 2016, it won multiple additional awards that include the OAA Design Excellence Award, the International Architizer A+ award, and nine other wins including a Canadian Green Building Award.
Hariri Pontarini Architects
235 Carlaw Ave. Suite #301, Toronto, ON M4M 2S1
Hariri Pontarini Architects delivers timeless designs that have shaped Toronto’s architectural landscapes. Founded by Siamak Hariri and David Pontarini in 1994, the company grew to become a full-house, 130-person studio that offers a comprehensive and award-winning portfolio in residential design.
As a recognized firm in the industry, the company is a constant feature in huge publications such as Canadian Architect, Modern Luxury Palm Beach, and the National Post. Aside from being a leading expert in master planning, the firm serves a wide spectrum of markets that include cultural, educational, healthcare, commercial, and mixed-use. The firm is an especially respected designer of luxury custom residences.
The Ravine Residence, for example, exhibits the firm’s understanding of design in terms of palette, materials, light, volume, and the relationship between the structure and its environment. To follow the client’s request for an enduring generational home, Ravine was designed to exude a sense of permanence. The construction work followed sustainable and eco-friendly methods that reduced waste and reused materials. The project earned the firm 2010’s Building Stone Institute Tucker Design Award.
Ian MacDonald Architect Inc.
1 Wiltshire Ave. Suite #207, Toronto, ON M6N 2V7
Ian MacDonald Architect was established in 1984 and is one of the most experienced design firms in the city. Included in its scope of work are designs for mixed-use and residential spaces, all of varying scales and complexities. The firm’s accomplishments over the years have garnered multiple recognitions from the industry’s most respected institutions. These include six Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence and three Governor General’s Medals.
Many of its past projects, especially in the residential market, have been featured in different publications. The Financial Times, for instance, included MacDonald’s green-roofed home in its “Breathtaking Cabins in Sensational Locations” article. Cottage Life, OBJEKT, and Monocle highlighted the firm’s experience in delivering site and context-specific architectures for the region’s most sophisticated project owners.
The firm’s success can be attributed to how it crafts responsive, site-specific architectures that put the relationship between the building and its landscape in the spotlight. The House in Swansea reflects the firm’s understanding of this design approach. The project involved an extensive renovation and expansion work. It followed a design meant to exploit the rich potential of the site’s spectacular view and unique terrain.
Kohn Shnier Architects
30 Maud St. Unit #100, Toronto, ON M5V 1T2
Canada Prix de Rome in Architecture laureate John Shnier and renowned architect Martin Kohn founded Kohn Shnier Architects in 1990. The firm started out as a small, non-specialized practice. Some of its works can be found in prestigious compendiums such as The Phaidon Atlas of World Architecture and in the second volume of Architecture Now! A few have been immortalized in New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.
© Doublespace Photography
As one of the innovators of alternative residential design, the firm is also known for the Q-Series prefabricated living spaces. The project was a commission for Royal Homes. Like many of the design studio’s influential works, the prefab homes have gained a tremendous amount of attention. Fortune Magazine included it in its annual Top 100 Ideas list. Their Rosemary House won an Ontario Association of Architects Award of Excellence and a Best of Canada Interiors Awards in 2017.
As a residential architectural firm, the company has also contributed much to the growing movement of modern and contemporary homes in Toronto. The Rosemary House, for instance, is a distinct creation not just in terms of its exaggerated features and interesting choice of materials. It also reflects the ironic yet peaceful harmony between convention and innovation—the firm’s signature style.
Lebel & Bouliane Inc.
1249 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X6
Custom residential designs, academic building architectures, and commercial interiors fill Lebel & Bouliane’s portfolio of complex and evocative contemporary designs. Founded in 2010, the firm believes that buildings are not just structures, they are an integral part of living cities and communities. As an inevitable part of a whole, designing them requires an integrative and sustainable approach that gives these buildings an “intense sense of place and purpose.”
© The Builder
The emerging practices derived from the firm’s core philosophy are inspired by the vision of its principals, Luc Bouliane, M.Arch, OAA, MRAIC, and Natasha Lebel, BArch, MBA. The results of these practices can be also observed in its widely published portfolio of modern and contemporary commercial, cultural, and residential spaces.
The firm’s Relmar House 1, for instance, has been described as a “complex organism” designed to respond to various site conditions, including sunlight and natural ventilation. Its scale also responds to its neighboring structures: a single-family home to the north, an apartment building to the south, and a commercial strip behind the development. The project won the 2016 Tucker Design Award and was featured in multiple publications that include AZURE Magazine, ArchDaily, Wallpaper Magazine, Architectural Record, Toronto Life, and Canadian Interiors.
Lorne Rose Architect Inc.
388 Spadina Rd., Toronto, ON M5P 2V9
The company was established in 1995 and became Lorne Rose Architect Inc. in 2000. Since then, the firm has continued to grow as a premier architectural firm in greater Toronto under its principal architect, Lorne Rose. Included in its comprehensive services are site analysis, pre-design, schematic design, design development, scheduling & budgeting, construction documentation, and construction administration.
For its residential designs, modern, transitional, French Country, French Provincial, and English Manor and Tudor homes, among others, can be found in the firm’s extensive portfolio. These projects, found across Canada’s high-end neighborhoods, not only evoke luxury but represent the sophistication and architectural sensitivity of their owners and designers.
One of the firm’s high-value design projects is a French Provincial home in Richmond Hill. The 9,000-square foot residence was completed in 2017 and was designed with the elegance and aesthetic appeal of European castles and mansions. Adding luxury to its exterior façade: smooth limestone details contrasted against rough limestone walls.
Paul Raff Studio
703 Bloor St. W, Box 2, Toronto, ON M6G 1L5
Paul Raff Studio is a highly sought-after and accomplished Toronto-based architecture firm. This innovative design practice focusses on helping local and international clients breathe life into design projects using fresh, creative and sustainable techniques. The firm believes that designs should be unique, enduring and experiential. These design principles have shaped the firm’s distinguished portfolio, including many award-winning projects.
Cascade House is an example of how the firm’s every project inspires a dialogue between the architectural form and its landscape, demonstrating how the important relationship of the structure to its natural surroundings can be harmonized. Cascade House was designed to be environmentally sustainable, utilizing passive solar principles in a distinctive contemporary design that reflects its northern urban context. For example, the windows are strategically configured throughout the house to maximize solar-heat retention as an unconventional but effective response to Ontario’s low-sun winters.
Having studied art and architecture around the world, the team at Paul Raff Studio are truly global architects. Their collaborative approach and broad perspectives manifest in Studio projects as sophisticated, artistic visions that translate smoothly across different countries and cultures.
Paul Raff founded the firm in 2003, and remains committed to the creation of spaces that artfully and intentionally mesh with the environment. With a background in art, architecture and environmental studies, Paul has built a reputation as a visionary in green design. Paul Raff Studio was awarded the RAIC Allied Arts Medal for lifetime achievement and the OAA Award of Excellence for their design of Cascade House
Post Architecture Inc.
32 Albany Ave., Toronto, ON M5R 3C3
By integrating modern designs and traditional contexts, Post Architecture Inc. finds the balance between form and function. As a boutique architecture firm, it creates spaces that represent innovation and design sensitivities. Its business philosophy can be observed in the unique, one-of-a-kind residential projects that cater to homeowners who want to blur the distinction between the individual and their surrounding environment.
Principal architect Gloria Apostolou’s background in architecture and environmental design helps the company to stay true to its artistic vision and design philosophy. As an OAA licensed architect and a LEED-accredited professional, Apostolou leads the company’s comprehensive processes that cover schematic design, design development, permit application drawings, interiors, millwork drawings, and construction review.
One of the products of the company’s modern and sustainable design methods is the Riverdale Dormer House located in Toronto. The firm successfully incorporated modern aesthetics into the century-old masonry structures. Through collaboration between engineers, builders, and the interior designers, the firm was able to transform a timeless structure and bring it up to date with modern architectural standards.
35 Golden Ave. Suite #101, Toronto, ON M6R 2J5
Founded in 2002 by Andre D’Elia and Meg Graham, superkül has established itself as one of the most accomplished architectural firms working across a broad range of sectors – academic, civic-cultural, commercial, and residential. All of their projects showcase the firm’s mastery of meaningful placemaking and a commitment to thoughtful, inspired and sustainable design.
© Tom Arban
The studio has been featured widely in local, national and international press, where their achievements in residential design have been celebrated and shared with a global readership. The recipient of multiple awards, superkül was most recently honoured by Designlines Magazine as Designer of the Year in January 2020. In 2018, they won the Jury Prize in the Architecture A+ Awards for A Room with a View, a project located in Toronto that also netted them the title of Grand Winner in the Remodeling Design Awards. That same year, superkül won the international Architecture MasterPrize for three of its projects – Compass House, Aesop Queen Street West, and once again, A Room with a View.
Expressed in a timeless material palette of red brick and warm ipe, Crescent Road House features large expanses of glazing on the ground floor that visually extend the space, drawing street and landscape in. The social diagram of the house and the needs of its occupants are manifest in its two volumes – the lower two-storey brick-and-wood box wraps a higher two-and-a-half-storey glazed atrium at the centre of the plan. This atrium both organizes the plan of the house and imbues the interior with light. A highly liveable, warm and inviting home, it was designed to anticipate the clients’ needs as they grow older, to facilitate the comfort and dignity of aging in place.
Taylor Smyth Architects
245 Davenport Rd. Suite #300, Toronto, ON M5R 1K1
Michael Taylor and Robert Smyth founded the company in 2000. Both are licensed architects and members of OAA, RAIC, and Toronto Society of Architects (TSA). Smyth is a member of the Canada Green Building Council and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). With their combined expertise, Taylor and Smyth have evolved to become leading designers for the region’s residential, education, and commercial markets.
© Kerun Ip
As a designer for residential spaces, the company is known for its ability to incorporate modern, contemporary, and traditional designs into stunning and celebrated works of art. These living spaces have been featured in famous publications in Canada and abroad. These include the OBJEKT International magazine and Designlines Magazine.
A great example of the firm’s work is the Cedarvale Residence project. The firm transformed the home from an old two-story Tudor dwelling, built in 1930, to a modern-traditional home. The new design incorporated existing architecture with modern elements and materials. The firm successfully came up with design solutions to the shortcomings of the original design. The company also re-used the original stone sills and left the arched brick lintels untouched. The team also repurposed bricks from the demolished parts of the living space for a mudroom and the infill window openings.