Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The thing about massive renovation projects is that they always look their worst just before they start to look better.

With that in mind, I visited for the second time the future home of David Daniels - once the home of Major-General Donald M. Hogarth - after first reporting on the project in November, 2007. Designed by Toronto architect Mackenzie Waters in 1935, the 8,000-square-foot, sturdy art deco brick box is slowly, methodically being brought into the 21st century - spatially, sustainably and otherwise - by architect and green expert Paul Dowsett of Scott Morris Architects.

Punctuated by the squeal of power saws, our tour began just outside the home's formal front door, where deliveries were occurring so frequently a turnstile might be more appropriate.

Story continues below advertisement

Here, in the wall of the porte-cochere, a large, original metal window has been installed for decorative purposes rather than being sent to landfill; surrounding brick has been salvaged from other areas of the house and the colour and texture of the new mortar has been painstakingly matched.

On the porte-cochere's roof, where once there stood a dilapidated old potter's shed, a modern, glassy guesthouse now sits, which connects to the main house by an equally modern umbilical cord of a bridge. "It was one of the first conceits when we first started talking about the house," says Mr. Daniels about the bridge idea, "and it's actually come true, out of all the crazy ideas that I've had throughout the last few years, and I think it's better than I imagined it."

In a way, the porte-cochere can be seen as a microcosm of the entire project: Old parts have been salvaged and repurposed; efforts have been made to duplicate original work; and there is the marriage of old and new architecture.

In the backyard, stacks of cedar from a demolished sauna await new life as partition walls in the pool house. Underfoot is a rich, creamy "Algonquin stone" from Owen Sound - "as local as we could get," chuckles the architect - that will spill out into the rest of the yard; above our heads is the new, pre-patina'd copper flashing with a folded "three-part detail" to echo the banded (and very deco) lines of the brickwork.

Despite the construction storm before the calm, there is much to see inside the house. Mr. Dowsett is conducting tests of art deco moulding styles for the ceiling, because, as he puts it, "in drawing you can only do so much." The jury is still out on whether these will feature curves, hard angles or a combination of both.

The entire "east wing" addition has now been clad in the high-tech, triple-glazed pale green curtain wall that adorns the other modern additions (in my first report this wing was just a skeleton), and it is here that I got my first glimpse of the much-ballyhooed walnut shell flooring by Granular Hardwood Technologies Ltd., which simulates the look of expensive terrazzo by using waste walnut shell pieces as the aggregate after they've been used to clean jet engines.

Here, too, in what will become a chef's delight of a kitchen is another interesting feature: a remotely activated, large sliding glass door - not unlike the kind at the local grocery store - that Mr. Daniels predicts will become the home's principal entrance. "I think your family is going to live in this room," confirms Mr. Dowsett. "This is the view, it's just stunning."

Story continues below advertisement

Not only is the view stunning, so is the performance. The curtain wall system has proven so effective an insulator, an earlier plan to install solar blinds has been scrapped. "Some of this stuff actually works," laughs Mr. Daniels. "As a consumer, you're inundated with it every day now; every day you turn on the TV, you pick up a newspaper or magazine and all you hear about is this green material, that green material, and thank God some of it works!"

Upstairs, awaiting refinishing are original hardwood floors that have been patched with pieces from other areas. Cuts to this three-quarter-century-old wood were done so precisely, says project manager Nick Egizii, the flooring contractors said it was "easier working with this than working with new wood."

Reflective high-albedo paint isn't the only thing covering the roof this time. Lined up like a giant's fallen dominos are massive solar panels that will supply the home with its entire hot water supply. Not only that, says Mr. Dowsett, they do double duty by helping to shade the roof. Popping up here and there are electrical goosenecks that will eventually connect to solar-electric panels: "At one point in time, we imagine that it will be cost effective to install solar-electric," says Mr. Daniels.

Until then, green pioneer Mr. Daniels is having a blast doing nightly research into sustainable technologies with a low-cost/high-benefit ratio, and Mr. Dowsett and Mr. Egizii are busily making it all happen.

And I, your humble Architourist (who can see past the mess) will bring you the finished project some time in late 2008 or early 2009. "We're as on schedule as you can be in a renovation," finishes Mr. Daniels.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies