Hart Massey House National Historic Site of Canada

Ottawa, Ontario
Hart Massey House, view of the principal entrance to the main level. © Christine Boucher, Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 2017.
View of the principal entrance to the main level.
© Christine Boucher, Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 2017.
Hart Massey House, view of the principal entrance to the main level. © Christine Boucher, Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 2017.The Hart Massey House rear elevation and garden. © Christine Boucher, Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 2017.Front elevation of the Hart Massey house viewed from Lansdowne Road North. © Christine Boucher, Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 2017.
Address : 400 Lansdowne Road, Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 2018-07-31
Dates:
  • 1959 to 1959 (Construction)

Other Name(s):
  • Hart Massey House  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 2017-28

Plaque(s)


Existing plaque:  400 Lansdowne Road, Ottawa, Ontario

This residence, completed in 1959, sensitively echoes its natural setting, making it a distinctly Canadian interpretation of the International Style. Its minimalist design reflects the modernist ideals of its architect, Hart Massey, who lived here until the 1970s. Elevated on thin steel pillars, the understated structure of modular boxes appears to float above its sloped site along the shore of McKay Lake. Dramatic glass walls open the house to a landscape of mature trees, harmonizing indoor and outdoor space. In 1964, the design won a Massey Medal, then Canada’s highest honour for architecture.

Description of Historic Place

The Hart Massey House is a striking single-family residence in the International style. Built in 1959, on a shallow sloping lot at the side of McKay Lake in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park Village. In form, it is a minimalist structure comprising a series of modular boxes enclosed by glazed and opaque walls. The east side of the house, facing the lake, features floor to ceiling windows that provide an unobstructed view of the surrounding landscape.

Heritage Value

Hart Massey House is an iconic example of mid-century modern residential architecture in Canada, and a particularly Canadian example of the International style because of its sensitivity to its natural surroundings; the minimalist structure consists of a series of modular boxes enclosed by alternating glass and opaque walls, which open the house to its site creating a completely unique architectural ensemble. This prestigious house reflects the personal tastes and modernist ideals of its architect, Hart Massey, who designed it for himself and his family in 1959; it earned him the Silver Medal of the Massey Awards for Architecture, the highest honour at the time. Elevated on thin steel columns so that it appears to float above its sloped site on McKay Lake, the house was designed to preserve the integrity of its natural environment; its architecture is an extension of the landscape, and its dramatic expanses of glass erase the line between indoor and outdoor space.

Character-Defining Elements

The International style and minimalist massing; the design, a single-family residence, in the form of a series of modular boxes; the combination of glazed and opaque exterior walls; the thin steel columns that support the house above its sloped site helping to preserve the integrity of its natural environment; the floor to ceiling windows of the east elevation that overlook the lake and surrounding landscape; the three quarters height interior partition walls on the ground floor that contribute to an open plan; the beige and black colour scheme that extends throughout the house; the site that comprises a narrow lot between McKay Lake and Lansdowne Road in Rockcliffe Park Village.

Commemorative Intent

Hart Massey House was designated a national historic site because:
• it is an iconic example of mid-century modern residential architecture in Canada, and a particularly Canadian example of the International style because of its sensitivity to its natural surroundings; the minimalist structure consists of a series of modular boxes enclosed by alternating glass and opaque walls, which open the house to its site creating a completely unique architectural ensemble;
• this prestigious house reflects the personal tastes and modernist ideals of its architect, Hart Massey, who designed it for himself and his family in 1959; it earned him the Silver Medal of the Massey Awards for Architecture, the highest honour at the time;
• elevated on thin steel columns so that it appears to float above its sloped site on McKay Lake, the house was designed to preserve the integrity of its natural environment; its architecture is an extension of the landscape, and its dramatic expanses of glass erase the line between indoor and outdoor space.