Ex-RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis is building inspiration on the shores of Lake Huron

Mike Lazaridis
By Michelle Haag on 4 Feb 2012 03:44 pm EST

In 2003, Mike Lazaridis and his wife Ophelia bought a 51-hectare bit of property on the shore of Lake Huron. The property was purchased for a paltry $800,000, formerly planned for a subdivision that had never been built. Five Canadian architectural firms competed in 2005 to win the contract to design the project, with Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini Architects coming out on top. Construction began in August of 2006, but progress has been slow as Mike hasn't had much time to devote to the project.

So what is the project, exactly? It's a house. In fact a 26,000 square-foot house, overlooking the lake and shore. The concept revolves around three key materials: glass, stone and bronze, which have been extracted or manufactured in the region. This isn't just any house though. It's not just a second home for Mike and his family. In fact, he plans for it to be an exclusive retreat for the world's top scientific and political minds. A space to inspire, for exchanging ideas and big dreams. “My hope is that when they come here, they’ll see all the good and be inspired by it,” Mike said in an interview earlier this week. “[I want] to inspire the groups to think and think big and be bold. That’s something that has worked for me for decades and I can’t see it stopping. I’m not done yet.”

With construction taking so long, and no one being allowed inside to view progress, there is a lot of speculation about what's being built and how much the project will total. Though sure to be one of the most expensive residential developments in Canada, we won't know for sure until construction is done and the final cost is disclosed. Mike is not concerned with the cost of the project, however, and reminds us that isn't the point. “I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to invest in something that pushes the limits of Canadian architecture, engineering, manufacturing,” he explains. “The fact that we were able to do this all with Canadian talent is a statement to the world.”

Mike Lazaridis came to Canada as a young boy with his Greek parents and sister, fleeing persecution in Turkey. “The thing is, I’ve always been grateful to this country because it accepted my parents. We came here with a few suitcases and very little money. [Canada] gave them an opportunity to rebuild their lives. It educated me and my sister. And I’ve always had this gratefulness in me to give back, and that’s what I have been doing.”

You can see more about the project after the break, and find more pictures at the source link below. 

Source: The Globe and Mail

Mike Lazaridis home
  • The lakeside house of RIM founder Mike Lazaridis is about 26,000 square feet, sitting on roughly 51 hectares of land along the shores of Southern Ontario’s Lake Huron.
  • The property includes about one kilometre of lake frontage.
  • Construction began in August, 2006, and could wrap up this year.
  • The original budget was $20-million, but the figure has climbed to an undisclosed amount.
  • The house includes 22,000 square feet of glass, 839 tonnes of stone and 77 tonnes of bronze.
  • The mezzanine is home to the world’s largest piece of laminated glass, the builders say – about 15 metres wide and three metres tall. It was made in Germany because no Canadian manufacturer makes glass that big.
  • The floor will be covered in a limestone similar in colour to Lake Huron’s sandy beach.
  • The walls will be painted off-white, Sherwin-Williams #1053.
  • Cantilever construction allows for the building’s glass boxes to hang without exterior bracing.
  • A wind turbine supplies electricity to the house.
  • 4,000 square feet have been set aside for the Lazaridis family living quarters.
  • The slope has been reinforced to prevent erosion.
  • Storm water is being diverted to ponds to control the rate of groundwater absorption.
  • A majority of the building materials has been sourced from within 161 kilometres.
  • Mr. Lazaridis asked for the stone fireplace in his glass-walled office to be moved slightly so he could see the historic Point Clark Lighthouse, built in 1859.
  • The house is named Solaris after director Steven Soderbergh’s 2002 science-fiction movie of the same name. The movie, a remake, is based on a novel by Polish author Stanislaw Lem. 
Mike Lazaridis home
Lazaridis home
Mike Lazaridis
Michelle Haag Michelle Haag "@_Miche11e_ and C0001B3B5" 1214 (articles) 1695 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Ex-RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis is building inspiration on the shores of Lake Huron


hehe The guy owns RIM...If there isn't 4 bars there now, I'm sure he will put up a Cell Tower to make sure there is when it's done.

I live in Point Clark (Where the lighthouse is that he wanted to see) Rogers JUST put a tower up, and fired it up around the start of the new year. So, yes, FULL 3G BARS!! I would imagine that the tower must be capeable of LTE as well. Why would they build a tower that would only support "old" technology?

And that's what I like about RIM & their CEO's. They give back to the community....unlike the other fruit company which use slave labour so they can hoard as much $$$ in the bank as they can

Errr.... My Blackberry was assembled in Mexico and several components have "Made in China" stamped on them. While I would imagine those RIM assembly plants in Canada and Hungary aren't sweatshops I wouldn't hold my breath regarding Mexico and Malaysia. Chinese manufacturing is so pervasive in the electronics sector that we shouldn't think of this as only an Apple issue. It affects us all. Are we prepared to start paying more for our products? That's what it will cost us in order to fix this problem.

I own a BB Bold and everything but I'm so sick of hearing their "be bold" slogan. It sounds so dumb. Poor marketing. I say this because I noticed in the article above he says: “[I want] to inspire the groups to think and think big and be bold."

That certainly is an inspiring story, and that is why Canada is such a cool country. Hopefully one day M Lazaridis will give an interview to CrackBerry.com

and you'll have to wait a decade before it's done and it will have no basic necessities like electricity, gas, telephone, etc ready until another 2 decades.

If he gave QWERTY keyboards and BBM back to the community, he would eligible for beatification in Canada. Isn't that all anyone would ever need?

Does he have the ADT keypad software on Playbooks on the wall?

Do the windows opaque themselves or are there remote-controlled blinds?

The house has a name, 'nuff said.

*They live on a lake. I know there is always a breeze on a lake, but why wind turbines? Why didn't he build a dam?

How is he going to dam a lake to create electricity? Hydro-powered turbines require flow and I'm not all that sure of the strength of currents in Lake Huron, but I'm going to guess based on its size that they're relatively small and would be less useful than wind turbines. Hydro-turbines are useful in places like... rivers, the Bay of Fundy, and I think Britain is using some in some areas near the ocean.

It's funny how Mike's personality was inflicted on RIM's projects. We can't know the true progress of any. His house seems complete while there's still a lot of work to get done. No offence, just thought of that when I read't.

If only RIM surprises us with a pre-release for the BB10, that'd be awesome.

i think my 9930 Bold is the best blackberry ever. i am unhappy for change to come because i think everyone should have a 9930.

that's just my opinion.

the house is nicer. and a garage room for his cars is much nicer than a garage.

Reading this on and typing this from mine right now :)
(Oh yeah and the structure is totally awesome. I need to innovate so I can get a room there sometime.
Boldly sent from my 9930

Ah crap...Consumer Reports rates Sherwin Williams paint mediocre at best! Now he'll have to redesign the entire color pallet when the sun bleaches the color away!

It also has an elevator that leads to a tunnel that leads towards the lake. It's only about an hour from my house and security was extremely tight, at least it was in '07 when it was all under construction. A guy I know was curious as to what was going on there and entered the driveway and was quickly escorted away.

Love the fact that its not just for him but for "the world's top scientific and political minds". again RIM giving back to the country that has made it such a huge presence in the global business industry. People can bash RIM all they want this right here is the perfect article for any debate.

Yea the two CEOs made mistakes & didn't see the American market changing & it cost Rim a bunch of money but Rim didn't deserve all the bashing it got & think the two ceos could have turn things around if giving time but the investors only care about now & not the long term survival of a company. I work for Weyerhaeuser & we went from a company with 60,000 employees & gross sales of 21 billion to a company with 10,000 employees & doing a gross of 6 billion to satisfy the investors for the short term & the rest of the company was sold off or the mills were shut down. A 100 year old forest company was destroyed in my thinking.

Hahaha! Even his home is "behind schedule"!!

I can hear him now- "this home has several new features....COMING SOON"!!!!


It's crap like this that distracted these guys and caused one of the worst downturns ever for a successful firm in history. Good thing he retired.

Give me a break. Oh that is right- Mike was up there at the lake with his hammer and nails working on the house and didn't have time for Blackberry. You DO know how dumb that sounds..........right?????

I like the choice of name for the house - Solaris. I can't really explain why, but I just like that movie. I think maybe it's the 'unknown' element to the movie, of 'what is Solaris?' Great soundtrack too. By Cliff Martinez. He also did Narc, Traffic, Sex Lies & Videotape, The Lincoln Lawyer, Drive, and Contagion, to name a few. A few other good movies: The Fountain and Primer.

Anyone know which town this is near? I drive along the lakeshore every year or so when going to visit my sister in Owen Sound but had no idea this was in the area.

I would imagine that four Canadian architectural firms that lost the project do not use RIM products...

what a bunch of BULL..... proud to be canadian is about as proud as it is to own a blackberry. which is pretty dumb.

What but it's smart to be proud of being American?

It's smart to be proud of a country that funded terrorism in the UK until they got hit by terrorists?

It's smart to be proud of a country that has an idiotic biggot as a leader?

It's smart to be proud of a country where people protest people who are just trying to make a living?

It's smart to be proud of a country that has gotten themselves hated by most of the world for being ignorant to the rest of the world's problems and is more interested in what celebrity screwed up, or did something on camera?

Well excuse me if, I'm proud to be Canadian.

This comment isn't really against the US more how she thinks its dumb to be proud of being Canadian. Every country has it's flaws, but to call the patriotism of another country dumb is just so stupid that this girl is honestly the definition of trash.

I love that his new house is more innovative than anything his company has done in 4+ years. Being that this project has been going on so long, maybe he put all of his creativity into the house as opposed to RIM. Awesome place though.

When I first starting reading this, I thought, 'Oh great. There goes another billionaire CEO off to spend way too much money on a house that is ridiculously large.' But as I kept reading and got to the part where he said he would use it as a creative space for the most innovative scientists, I was very impressed. Way to go out with a bang! I'm proud of RIM.