New Pavilion for the McGill University Schulich School of Music / Saucier + Perrotte architectes

Architects: Saucier + Perrotte architectes
Location: Montreal, Quebec,
Principal in Charge: Gilles Saucier
Project Architect: Anik Shooner
Project team: Gilles Saucier, Anik Shooner, Caroline Elias, Maxime-Alexis Frappier, Anna Bendix, Anne Sophie Allard, Audrey Archambault, Eda Ascioglu, Patrice Bégin, Catherine
Bélanger, Alain Boudrias, Nathalie Cloutier, Jean-Yves Couture, Robert Dequoy, Maxime Gagné, Pierre Gervais, Mana Hemami, Jean-Sebastien Herr, Yvon Lachance, Marc-Antoine Larose, Jean-Louis Léger, Josiane Mac, Andrea MacElwee, Éric Majer, Claudio Nunez, Annie Paradis, Alex Parmentier, Harvens Piou, Isabelle Roy, Annie-Claude Sauvé, Sudhir Suri, Michel Thompson

Structure: Saia Deslauriers Kadanoff Leconte Brisebois Blais
Mechanical & Electrical engineer: Pellemon inc. / BPR
Contractor: Eastern Construction
Acoustics: ARTEC
Constructed Area: 11,775 sqm
Photographs: Marc Cramer, Pol Baril, Gilles Saucier

The design for the new Faculty of Music Building gives prominence to the southeast corner of the McGill University campus at Sherbrooke and Aylmer Streets in downtown Montreal. The new building is adjacent to the historic Strathcona Building, the existing home of the Faculty of Music, which houses one of the university’s main concert facilities. The new program adds to the faculty space, and includes a library, recital hall, state-of-the-art multimedia and practice studios, and faculty offices.

The site is a narrow strip of land between Aylmer Street and the east wing of the existing faculty building. The multimedia studio anchors the design. It is a polished limestone volume almost five stories high that is “embedded” three stories into the ground at the north end of the lot. Practice rooms and technical studios also inhabit the underground realm south of the multimedia studio. Above these submerged spaces, at street level, are located the recital hall and main entrance. A folded concrete plane defines these spaces and appears to support the main body of the building above. This plane evokes an eroded ground plane leading to Montreal’s prominent Mount Royal beyond. A three-storey high library sits immediately above the recital hall, over which are three additional storeys of office and practice space.

The new building is linked to the older faculty buildings by a glazed bridge that runs through the main entrance hall.

The building’s east and west façades are discrete planes that frame the views of the city along Aylmer Street and toward the mountain. The east façade is clad in black and gray zinc, with long strip windows that illuminate the office corridors, and a large glazed opening into the library entry space. The west façade is designed to evoke musical figures-the surface pattern of matt and polished aluminum reflects the Strathcona Building while a series of punched windows, evoking the music rolls of antique mechanical pianos, bring light into the smaller spaces inside. The glazed front façade, facing Sherbrooke Street, allows exquisite daylight to permeate the library and conference spaces, creating interior environments conducive to learning and research for the visitors and occupants of the Faculty of Music.

Cite: "New Pavilion for the McGill University Schulich School of Music / Saucier + Perrotte architectes" 31 Jan 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • NMiller

    Fantastic project. I like the composition and subtle material patterns, but I wish some of the warmth of the performance hall translated more to the exterior and into the lobbies.

  • JDR

    Those drawings makes me feel so fine. It just shows how careful the architects treated this project.

    I think the project itself lacks a bit of character. The curtainwall shows almost no activity, the other facades are to closed. As NMiller said, it does not charge its surroundings with its presence. It is therefor hard to imagine what kind of building it is, and this makes it difficult for the environment to really accept it. And I think that is important in an architectural project.

  • chicago.g

    the project seems a bit fussy. feels like the architect is trying to achieve too much within this 10,000 sm builidng, both exteior and interior, too many lines, materials, in-and-out, up-and-down.

  • lady gaga music

    Fantastic project. I like the composition and subtle material patterns

  • Derek

    Beautiful building.

    But it was built years ago…? Ive gone by it dozens of times.

  • negin

    very beautiful facad.

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  • sullka

    I agree with Chicago, there’s too much going on there, it looks like a frankstein made out of pieces from several Saucier + Perrote buildings.

    I see in sketch 2, that the opaque wall as the response to the next door building was actually intended. That’s fine but a translucent (opened) one seems to fit better, not negating it, but aknowledging the presence of the building. By swapping positions between the circulation core and the hallway, this would had been achieved.

    Still great building indeed.

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  • Julian Day

    These stills are quite impressive. But the actual building feels more like a cenotaph than a place dedicated to the finest of the arts. Ever been inside? I can think of few buildings that fail so spectacularly to live up to their purpose. If architecture is frozen music this place is John Cage.