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September 6, 2013



After 17 years apart, Ellen Vera Allen and Chris Lea have reunited to renenergize an old firm, now to be Allen & Lea, Inc.

The firm is committed to the creation of a beautiful, functional, ecological and humane architecture. We want to create buildings that you would enjoy commissioning, owning, living or working in, buildings that are smart about the future.


One of the few women to open an architectural practice in Toronto, Ellen Vera Allen has unparalleled experience in the creation of finely scaled housing. From 1979 Ellen partnered with Harald Ensslen to form Allen & Ensslen Architects, later also partnering with Charles Barrett, the firm renamed Allen Ensslen Barrett, incorporated in 1992. The firm focused on housing delivered through government programs, until these programs were discontinued in the mid-1990s. Hired by Ellen in 1979, Chris was first employee and Associate of the firm until he left in 1996, about the same time he completed a 6-year stint serving as Leader of the Green Party of Canada.


In the time since then Ellen has maintained a personal practise focused on housing and, in joint venture with Phillip Carter, libraries, while Chris for most of the years since was Facility Manager at University of Toronto's Hart House, where he undertook hundreds of restoration and building modernization projects and as well looked at various ways to change the building's day-to-day and long-term maintenance to improve safety and reduce operations costs. For about 3 years Chris worked at Cricket Design Company, where he helped to design dozens of hospitality spaces, including restaurants, cafeterias, nightclubs and casinos. Chris also worked for a bit at the Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre in a project management role. For about a decade Chris has been active in community opera.


Shaped by our experience, we are looking to take on projects that "tread lightly" on the Earth, that are human-scaled. We want to use materials that you can get reasonably close by, install enough insulation, great windows and advanced devices so that energy use is minimized, to design for your building's near and long-term maintenance and reinvention. We want more beauty, better proportion, durability. We are all for enjoying life, and that's what we want for you.


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