Perched atop a hill overlooking the Don River, Shim-Sutcliffe Architect's sensuously curving Residence for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto peacefully rests among its tranquil surroundings, largely unbeknownst to the flowing (or more often deadlocked) traffic on the DVP below. Opening nearly four years ago, the internationally-acclaimed project has racked up a series of awards upon its completion, including a 2014 Governor General's Medal in Architecture. Revisiting the project since our last article three years ago, new photographs show how the building has settled into its surroundings, long after the final touches have been applied and the construction crews have left the site.

Panoramic view of the Sisters of St. Joseph Residence, image by Riley Snelling.

Located at the corner of Broadview Avenue and O'Connor Drive, the new residence is a 4-storey addition to the historic Taylor House, and contains health care facilities, communal areas, and living units for its more than 50 elderly residents, offering varying degrees of care. The sinuous form of the building responds to the landscape, with views offered north into the valley and south toward the city.

View of the south facade, image by Riley Snelling.

Finished with high-quality materials, the striking aesthetic of the residence both blends with its historic and natural surroundings, and stands out in its own right as an architecturally significant building. Presenting an imposing and captivating facade to the south, the distinctive exterior fins of corten steel seem to shift in appearance between the fully rusted deep red on one side, and the emerald green paint on the other side as the viewer moves about the building. The heavy contrast of the facade is further accentuated by reflective blue glazing, and complemented by the green ceramic tiles and yet-to-oxidize copper panels near the base.

A closer look at the distinctive corten steel fins, green accents, and blue glazing, image by Riley Snelling.

The north facade, which is unfortunately inaccessible to the public, presents a more subdued face to the forested valley, finished with dark brown brick and a fully glazed ground floor. The distinctive feature of the north side is the curved glass of the chapel, a small fully-glazed annex jutting out from the building that sits at the centre of a reflection pool, offering breathtaking views over the calm water to the valley beyond.

As part of the expansion project, the historic Taylor House was restored and adapted as part of the residence. Completed in 1885 by architect David B. Dick, the residence was home to prominent businessman John F. Taylor, whose family founded both the Todmorden Mills and the Don Valley Brickworks. The connection to the new building is minimal, with adequate space separating the two buildings, allowing the flamboyant red brick Queen Anne Revival facade to be fully articulated.

The Taylor House was restored as part of the expansion, image by Riley Snelling.

Inside, the ground floor features large, open communal spaces, including a lobby, dining hall, and chapel for residents. Featuring a variety of units ranging from independent living to around-the-clock care, the upper floors contain living units for the residents, organized along a single-loaded south-facing corridor flooded with light, with the units directed toward the more tranquil view to the north.

View of the south facade and the Taylor House, image by Riley Snelling.

The landscaping of the property mitigates between the ravine, the forest, and the city, with corten steel retainers, winding pathways, and lush vegetation creating a contemplative yet urban setting enjoyed from both inside and outside the building.

The south facade of the residence, image by Riley Snelling.

In addition to its impressive design, the building achieved a high degree of sustainability, with a high-performance envelope, green roofs, photovoltaic roof panels, solar water heating, and rainwater management, as well as geothermal heating and cooling systems. While it did not aim to meet LEED standards, the project did capture a 2014 Living City Award for its emphasis on green healthy living.

Close-up view of the fins on the south facade that provide solar shading, image by Riley Snelling.

Only time will tell how this building will age, but its striking design and incorporation of sustainable and heritage elements promises to render this project a timeless example of Toronto architecture deserving of praise. Want to find out more about the Sisters of St. Joseph Residence? Check out our associated Forum thread, or get in on the discussion by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.