Thomas and Su­san d’Aquino’s Iconic Style


“When you walk through this space, you might think, ‘Gosh, th­ese guys are ob­sessed with grey.’ But it was this idea of hav­ing some­thing that is sooth­ing.”


Pent­house One at 700 Sus­sex Dr. is not your tra­di­tional down­town of­fice. The two-storey suite, blend­ing both of­fice and en­ter­tain­ment space, is ev­ery bit as unique as you’d ex­pect from a cou­ple like Tom d’Aquino and Su­san Peter­son d’Aquino.

Tom is best known for his three decades of work lead­ing the Canadian Coun­cil of Chief Ex­ec­u­tives, while Su­san is a for­mer se­nior of­fi­cial in the Privy Coun­cil Of­fice, the Depart­ment of Fi­nance, and the Depart­ment of Canadian Her­itage. They both now vol­un­teer their time with the Na­tional Gallery of Canada, Tom as chair of the gallery’s foun­da­tion and Su­san as chair of the Friends of The Print Room.

While they main­tain their res­i­dence in Rock­cliffe at the Hart Massey house, Su­san and Tom jumped at the chance to cre­ate a mul­tiuse space, in­clud­ing a guest apart­ment, in the heart of down­town Ottawa.

“When I knew that this project was go­ing up I thought this was ideal,” says Tom. “How many na­tional cap­i­tals in the world can you get a space like this that’s only 100 yards away from Par­lia­ment?”

While the suite is in the busy cen­tre of Ottawa, look­ing out on the Gov­ern­ment Con­fer­ence Cen­tre, the Shaw Cen­tre, the Château Lau­rier and the Na­tional War Me­mo­rial, its de­sign cre­ates a vis­ual oa­sis. The rooms are open and spa­cious, with clean lines and monochro­matic colours – mostly gen­tle greys.

“When you walk through this space, you might think, ‘Gosh, th­ese guys are ob­sessed with grey.’ But it was this idea of hav­ing some­thing that is sooth­ing,” says Tom.The fur­nish­ings are de­cid­edly mod­ern, with sig­nif­i­cant pieces from de­sign­ers such as Mies van der Rohe and Cassina. “We’re ar­chi­tec­tural buffs and great ad­mir­ers of Mies,” says Tom. Ev­ery light­ing el­e­ment has also been hand-picked by the d’Aquinos, in­clud­ing unique Tolomeo, Tizio and Ne­store pieces. .

The pent­house is equipped with a sleek kitchen, spe­cially de­signed for them by the Ital­ian firm Val­cucine, whose cab­i­netry was also used in the of­fice area.

“What I thought was re­ally im­por­tant here was to take th­ese greys and ex­tend it just as you would do in a gar­den – a very suc­cess­ful gar­den re­quires a sweep of some­thing, rather than a dit, dot and that – so we swept this into here,” says Tom. “And even though th­ese were orig­i­nally de­signed as kitchen el­e­ments, we took them in to keep the con­sis­tency.”

The d’Aquinos en­joy the south­ern ex­po­sure of the suite through floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows. “I’m a pas­sion­ate col­lec­tor of prints,” says Tom, who points out a piece from the Cham­plain di­aries and the fa­mous and iconic Tak­ing of Que­bec. There’s also a col­lec­tion of Spy prints, in­clud­ing one of Sir Wil­frid Lau­rier and a very rare one of Win­ston Churchill. ”But the thing with prints is that you can’t ex­pose them to too much light.” To pro­tect them a dou­ble-blind sys­tem and ul­tra­vi­o­let shield­ing were added to the win­dows.

Re­flect­ing the cou­ple’s world trav­els, there is a stunning col­lec­tion of cos­mopoli­tan art­work through­out the pent­house. More con­tem­po­rary pieces in­clude a Robert Mother­well, but there are also nods to past eras. An­cient Ro­man pot­tery tops the book­shelves and there’s a 17th-cen­tury

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