Dedicated to sustainable,
high performance building

Ronald McDonald House

House in a garden designed for economy and healing

Ronald McDonald House Toronto provides a ‘home away from home’ for families with seriously ill children who are receiving care at the world-renowned Hospital for Sick Children but live outside the Greater Toronto Area. The new House is designed to encourage a sense of normalcy for the children and their families, providing an environment where ‘kids can be kids’ to the fullest extent possible. It is a place of comfort, security and refuge.

By Robert Davies


The new 9,183 m², four-storey building accommodates 81 families, making it the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world. The program includes 66 single room family suites, 15 two-bedroom family suites, a house manager’s suite and communal facilities including living, dining and kitchen areas as well as administrative and support spaces. The house also includes a unique one-room school for children of different ages and abilities.

The primary architectural idea was to provide a ‘house in a garden in the city.’ The disposition of the building on the site creates a series of three landscaped garden courts. The front court is a linear walled garden with a fountain adjacent to the main entry lobby, muffling the sounds of the city.

The south court is a quiet contemplative lawn bordered by a paved walkway. The north court is more active with various play areas and an outdoor dining area. An indoor play pavilion is the central focus of this court. The school, living, kitchen and dining spaces actively use the garden courts. The bright kitchen, looking out onto Henry Street, provides a number of cooking and clean-up stations open to a dining area which, in turn, provides residents the opportunity to be together or alone overlooking the garden court.
On the upper levels, the corridors leading to the bedrooms overlook the gardens providing not only daylight and views but additional social spaces close to the family suites. The elevator lobby on all floors is open to a south view to provide both daylight and orientation.

Energy conservation starts with a high-performance building envelope that reduces thermal transmittance through the walls and roof by more than 55% and through the window assemblies by more than 35% compared to the MNECB reference building.

The building is heated by two high efficiency condensing, natural gas-fired boilers and one on/off boiler. Ventilation is provided by variable-flow exhaust and outdoor air based on exhaust demand and occupant needs. A solar thermal installation supplies an estimated 16% of the energy required for domestic hot water.

  • Project Performance
    – Energy intensity [building and process energy] = 2,088MJ/m2/year
    – Thermal energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under MNECb = 90%
    – Lighting energy reduction relative to reference building = 51%
    – Potable water consumption from municipal sources = 8109L/occupant/year
    – Potable water consumption reduction relative to LEED reference building = 24%
    – Reclaimed and recycled materials by value = 17%
    – Regionally sourced materials [800km radius] by value = 36%
    – Construction materials diverted from landfill = 75%
  • Project Credits
    Owner  Ronald McDonald Charities
    Architect  Montgomery Sisam Architects
    Structural Engineer  Blackwell Bowick Engineers
    Mechanical/ELECTRICAL Engineer  Crossey Engineering Ltd.
    General Contractor  Delterra Construction Inc – a Division of Tridel
    Landscape Architect  PMA Landscape Architects
    Commissioning Agent  CDML
    Interior Design  Carlyle Design Associates
    Sustainability  Dr. Ted Kesik, University of Toronto
    Cost Consultant  A.W. Hooker
    Photos  Tom Arban
    Suite Interior Photos  Donna Griffith

Robert Davies is a principal with Montgomery Sisam Architects in Toronto,