On February 6 came the long-anticipated inauguration of the 2-22, the new flagship building of the Quartier des Spectacles designed by Ædifica and Gilles Huot Architectes. Designed to meet LEED-NC environmental standards, this six-storey building promises to become a Montréal cultural landmark, being located at the intersection of St. Catherine St. and St. Laurent Blvd., the nerve center of the St. Laurent Blvd. revitalization project.
In addition to its innovative double wall, what strikes you immediately about the building is its recessed, angular entrance. An echo of buildings that stood at this intersection in earlier times, this design frees up the sidewalk for the dense pedestrian traffic this area generates, particularly during festivals. The unique façade is marked by seemingly random openings in the building’s wooden envelope. The envelope is protected by a shell of transparent glass, like a second skin; the space created by superimposing these materials will be used for a variety of multimedia installations. The distribution of windows reflects the activities going on inside: the exhibition rooms in the upper levels enjoy controlled lighting, while large openings flood work environments with natural light.
Ideas of fluidity and circulation influenced the architecture and create a dialogue between the building and passers-by. In summer, a portion of the envelope retracts at the level of St. Catherine St., altering the building’s physical limits. The impression of exchange is echoed in the interior, with elements such as an opening that originates in the lobby and passes through the first three floors, the windowed mezzanine overlooking the ground floor, and a sculptural staircase, between the third and fourth floors, which occupants can choose over the elevator. These elements, central to daily activities, encourage interaction between individuals and their environment.
The building was designed as part of “Imagining-Building Montréal 2025”. The Angus Development Corporation ensured its cultural vocation by allocating 75% of the space to cultural organizations. CIBL community radio, La Vitrine, Artexte, Vox and the Regroupement des centres d’artistes autogérés du Québec also helped to design their space so it would reflect their needs. The French restaurant Le St. Cyr occupies the ground floor, while a future bar with outdoor terrace on the fifth floor will offer striking viewpoints of the surrounding area.
Ædifica is a unified team of architects, designers, engineers, communication specialists and project managers who share a common desire to create meaningful and longlasting places. The firm has been in business since 1979 and now consists of over 115 professionals providing an integrated service offer. The creativity and quality of its achievements reflect its commitment to sustainable development and its conviction that design is a powerful tool for expressing an identity – one that any organization can use to demonstrate its values to the world. Some of firm clients/projects include : l’Adresse symphonique (in consortium with Diamond & Schmitt), the Montreal Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium (in consortium with Cardin Ramirez Julien), the Société de développement Angus, the Laurentian Bank of Canada, Barneys New York, Mountain Equipment Coop and Muvbox.
Photos: Stéphane Brugger