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15 Young Firms to Watch: Altius Architecture, Toronto

15 Young Firms to Watch: Altius Architecture, Toronto

  • Altius Architectures bold modernism is amply on display in the firms Clearview Residence.

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    Altius Architectures bold modernism is amply on display in the firms Clearview Residence.

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    Courtesy Altius Architecture

    Altius Architecture’s bold modernism is amply on display in the firm’s Clearview Residence.

  • The Clearview Residence.

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    The Clearview Residence.

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    Courtesy Altius Architecture

    The Clearview Residence.

  • Like many of the firms cottage country projects, Cliff House stands on a dramatic lakefront site.

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    Like many of the firms cottage country projects, Cliff House stands on a dramatic lakefront site.

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    Courtesy Altius Architecture

    Like many of the firm’s “cottage country” projects, Cliff House stands on a dramatic lakefront site.

  • Designed as an off-grid structure, Cliff House features a multilevel green roof.

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    Designed as an off-grid structure, Cliff House features a multilevel green roof.

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    Courtesy Altius Architecture

    Designed as an off-grid structure, Cliff House features a multilevel green roof.

  • The Cliff House kitchen and dining area are strongly oriented toward the lake view.

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    The Cliff House kitchen and dining area are strongly oriented toward the lake view.

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    Courtesy Altius Architecture

    The Cliff House kitchen and dining area are strongly oriented toward the lake view.

  • Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass maximize Cliff Houses elevated lakefront views.

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    Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass maximize Cliff Houses elevated lakefront views.

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    Courtesy Altius Architecture

    Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass maximize Cliff House’s elevated lakefront views.

  • Altius Architecture principals Graham Smith, Cathy Garrido, and Trevor McIvor.

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    Altius Architecture principals Graham Smith, Cathy Garrido, and Trevor McIvor.

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    Courtesy Altius Architecture

    Altius Architecture principals Graham Smith, Cathy Garrido, and Trevor McIvor.

  • In its North Kingsway project, Altius transformed a traditional suburban tract house into a green, modern gem.

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    In its North Kingsway project, Altius transformed a traditional suburban tract house into a green, modern gem.

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    Courtesy Altius Architecture

    In its North Kingsway project, Altius transformed a traditional suburban tract house into a green, modern gem.

  • A single open stringer and cantilevered landing lend this stair in North Kingsway a sense of levitation.

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    A single open stringer and cantilevered landing lend this stair in North Kingsway a sense of levitation.

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    Courtesy Altius Architecture

    A single open stringer and cantilevered landing lend this stair in North Kingsway a sense of levitation.

  • The backyard view of North Kingsway.

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    The backyard view of North Kingsway.

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    Courtesy Altius Architecture

    The backyard view of North Kingsway.

  • North Kingsways projecting kitchen addition opens onto a generous backyard deck.

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    North Kingsways projecting kitchen addition opens onto a generous backyard deck.

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    Courtesy Altius Architecture

    North Kingsway’s projecting kitchen addition opens onto a generous backyard deck.

 

altius architecture
toronto
www.altius.net

Altius Architecture’s founders bootstrapped their firm into existence. “We basically decided to start a firm right out of school,” says principal Cathy Garrido, AIA, LEED AP. Partners Graham Smith, MRAIC, LEED AP, and Trevor McIvor, MRAIC, piloted the firm’s early design/build projects. Garrido helped structure and manage the practice, while booking enough internship hours at her day job to sit for her license. After three years, she joined her former schoolmates full time, helped them get licensed, and, as they say, Bob’s your uncle.

Modernists with a commitment to sustainability, the partners have built a portfolio of houses whose bold geometries—on urban infill sites or the dramatic lakefronts of Ontario’s “cottage country”—prove their self-confidence was not misplaced. Equally distinctive is the firm’s heads-up approach to business. Despite complaints from others in the field, Garrido says, “we thought there was no reason why we shouldn’t be able to make a decent living as architects.” The ability to perform construction management helps Altius stand out in the market, she says, and maintaining a business plan, setting revenue targets, and following a marketing plan have yielded their intended result. “For the past 10 years, it’s been pretty steady growth.”

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years in practice: 10 / projects completed in 2011: 30 / firm size: 27 / areas of interest: residential, commercial / portrait: Courtesy Altius Architecture