The house stands in Toronto and, since its completion in 1974, has maintained its architectural status with distinction. It was designed by the celebrated architect, Barton Myers, and at later stages equally celebrated interior designers made their contributions to updating the interior. The first being Yabu Pushelberg, the second Heather Faulding. Walter Kehm was responsible for the landscape architecture. It is to the credit of the occupiers – who were the ones to commission the original design – that the Wolf House continues to be a genuine jewel in the crown of North American architecture.
The Wolf House is situated in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood. Here, in this leafy setting, is where the architect Barton Myers created his architectural work of art. He designed the house in the early 1970s for Lawrence and Mary Wolf. In 1974 building work was completed and the design already qualified as a masterpiece of American architecture. It was described as ‘design that most anticipated the 21st century’, partly on account of the off-the-shelf industrial materials that were combined in a new and elegant way. At the start of the 21st century the house design still makes a contemporary impression and it does the owners credit that, since they moved in, the authentic character of the house has not been compromised. The design is based on two spacious, three-floor living volumes connected by staircases and corridors. There is a courtyard between the two main volumes, and a deep garden, with swimming pool, has been created behind the house. You are immediately struck by the large window walls reaching from the ground floor to the roof. There are even skylights in the roof itself, heightening interaction with the natural surroundings. The interior arrangement is clear. From the front door there is a corridor leading to the family room, which is designed as a rectangular glass box. In this space there is only one closed wall, behind which there is a home office. Part of that wall consists of panels that can be slid to close off the office from the main volume, for instance. Stairs lead to the living level, with a dining area, sitting room and a long narrow kitchen. The upper floor is designed as a master suite and bathroom at the rear, and guest accommodation-cum-office at the front. The overall effect is one of endless space and tranquillity, thanks partly to the large expanses of glass. The steel skeleton of the house, the ducts and conduits, for instance for the climate control, are all happily exposed and pay homage to a new functional aesthetic. Since completion, the interior has been redesigned twice, while paying due respect to the existing architecture. The first update was carried out by the well-know design studio of Glenn Pushelberg and George Yabu (with branches in Toronto and New York). They redesigned the second and third floors in 1995. The most recent update was carried out in 2008 by Heather Faulding of Faulding Architecture, New York. She addressed the interiors of the kitchen and the glass family room. In 1998 Walter Kehm, senior principal of the international landscape architecture firm, LANDinc, with offices in Toronto, Halifax and Abu Dhabi, redesigned the gardens surrounding the house.
The architect Barton Myers, born in Norfolk, Virginia, is an icon of architecture. He studied at the United States Naval Academy, Cambridge University and the University of Pennsylvania, from where he received his master’s degree in architecture. He worked with Louis Kahn and in 1968 opened his own studio in Toronto. In 1984 he moved his main studio to Los Angeles. He reintroduced to North American architecture the concept of the urban room: creating spaces which live harmoniously with their existing surroundings. In 1977 he received the Architectural Record House of the Year Award for his Wolf House design. In 1986 he was the recipient of the Toronto Arts Award for Architecture for his work – in recognition of his contribution to the city. In addition to his architectural work, Myers has also taught at the University of Waterloo, Canada, the Harvard School of Design, and the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture.