• 10.15.15

The House That Calculus Built

The Integral House, a millionaire mathematician’s 18,000 square foot love letter to calculus, is a modern design masterpiece.

Calculus made James Stewart a millionaire. Starting in the late 1970s, when the Canadian-born mathematician published his first calculus textbook, Stewart wrote over 30 bestselling calculus textbooks. Last year alone, he sold 500,000 books, from which he made around $26 million.


When Stewart finally built his dream home, he decided to make it a house that calculus built. This resulted in the Integral House, an 18,000-square-foot property covered in flowing curves that would be impossible to recreate without using integral calculus, his forté.

Designed by Canadian architects Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe, the sumptuous Integral House stands in Rosedale, Toronto. It’s a house that seems even more individualistic and beautiful than other North American designer houses, like Boston’s Gropius House, only far more grand.

Featuring panoramic ravine views on all sides, the Integral House appears to be only two stories tall from the front, but it rise to five stories tall as it moves back. Sotheby’s describes its aesthetic as “passion, curves, and voluminous space,” and that’s as good a descriptor as any. “I think it’s one of the most important private houses built in North America in a long time,” Glenn D. Lowry, director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, once told the Wall Street Journal. “The curved walls make it almost impossible to relate it to spaces that you know. It’s one of the most remarkable houses I’ve ever been in.”

What’s so unique about the house is that every single room, wall, and surface really looks a beautiful math problem, its curves brought to life with exquisite taste, thanks to the power of calculus. It’s full of wonderful little touches, from the staggering view from Stewart’s private study, to the private infinity pool, to the dedicated concert hall (Stewart was also a violinist), in which Phillip Glass and Steve Reich once performed. Even Stewart’s pet peeves are catered to: for example, the fact that the electrical sockets are completely invisible in every room.

The Integral House took six years to build, and was finally completed in 2009. Sadly, Stewart didn’t get to live there long: the mathematician passed away last year of a rare blood disease. Now on the market for around $18 million USD, it’s sad that a house this unique will never be open to the public.

Maybe we should launch a Kickstarter?

[via Mental Floss, the Guardian]