Architects: MSDL Architectes
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Area: 7,840 sqm
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Stephane Groleau, Courtesy of MSDL Architectes
From the architect. The space is punctuated by a series of thresholds indicating points of transition, ground works, walls, and ceilings – that are illuminated by the lighting and audiovisual system, creating passage ways that are enticing and appealing to the senses. Spaces have been organized for animation and shows. There are openings that link underground spaces and the outdoors, as well as skylights and the works of the artists on display. The overall impression is an immense cultural foyer, available to all.
The entrance way and the foyer of this cultural complex first became functional in 1972, providing access to the various performance spaces as well as an underground network. The complex was easily accessible to users, but it never really succeeded in highlighting the wide range of cultural activities and services available, such as performance halls, box offices, boutiques, restaurants, and extensive pedestrian walkways. With such a high level of access and use, the complex suffered the wear and tear of time. The Place des Arts de Montréal was seeking new designs for the marquee, the main entrance, and the communication facilities in order to create a prestigious cultural centre with a unique identity offering a wide range of cultural activities.
The considerable structural challenges, the interior renovations and the urban design all helped produce a high quality architectural work, based on an existing building. Today, the Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme introduces the public to an atmosphere that is conducive to discovery and leisure. • Traffic consolidation. • Maximum deployment of green spaces. • Conservation of existing structures. • Primary focus on pedestrian traffic and alternative transportation. • Enhancement of natural light for the benefit of users.
In addition to the renovation of existing spaces, the project involved adding a new exhibit hall, animation and service spaces, a glass canopy, access to the esplanade, a multimedia zone, and an advanced outdoor lighting system, the purpose of which is to confirm the flagship role of the complex in the new Quartier des spectacles. The masterful optimization of promotional tools reflects both the diversity and the depth of the cultural spectrum provided by Place des Arts for the benefits of its users. Place des Arts has preserved its status as the largest cultural center in Canada.
The entrance way and foyer to the complex provide an access way, through which thirty-five thousand users transit on a daily basis, and eight million pedestrians, customers and patrons on an annual basis. The architectural challenge was to transform the largest cultural complex in Quebec into a living milieu. The diversity of its activities and the freedom to choose have become its most sustainable features: accessibility is the keyword, and the pathways of communication, its ambassadors.