OMA wins competition for the Beaux Arts Museum in Quebec expansion

Aerial view © , render by Luxigon

OMA has been announced as the winner of the international competition for the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) expansion. The CAD$90 million project was also consulted with local residents, with an 82% of approval.

A series of stacked boxes remind the programatic relations of Seattle’s Library, while generating an interesting grand hall facing the street with urban qualities.

Section © OMA

The three stacked galleries vary in size, as you can see on the axo and models included below: contemporary exhibitions (50m x 50m), the permanent contemporary collection (45m x 35m) and design / Inuit exhibits (42.5m x 25m). The cantilever over the street creates the grand hall, a 14m tall transparent space connected to the park, starting point of an ascending path trough the boxes.

“Our ambition is to create a dramatic new presence for the city, while maintaining a respectful, even stealthy approach to the museum’s neighbors and the existing museum. The resulting form of cascading gallery boxes enhances the museum experience by creating a clarity in circulation and curation while allowing abundant natural light into the galleries.”

- Shohei Shigematsu

The other four finalists of the competition were Barkow Leibinger (Germany) + Imrey Culbert (US), Allied Works (US) + Fichten Soiferman et Associés (Canada), Nieto Sobejano (Spain) + Brière, Gilbert et Associés (Canada) and David Chipperfield (UK) + Groupe Arcop (Canada).

The project is led by partners Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu (who we interviewed before), and will be executed by OMA NY in collaboration with Provencher Roy + Associés Architectes. Construction is expected to be completed in fall 2013.

More images after the break:

Grand hall © OMA, render by Luxigon
Courtyard © OMA
Atrium © OMA, render by Luxigon
Programmatic axo © OMA
Model © OMA
Translucent model © OMA
Model © OMA
Cite: Basulto, David. "OMA wins competition for the Beaux Arts Museum in Quebec expansion" 31 Mar 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • jarek

    My first impression, something I already saw from OMA.

  • claus

    a very useful comment, jarek. thanks for sharing.

  • nick


  • ornamentandcrime

    jarek – you make that sound like a bad thing.

    It’s not.

  • frank

    Craig Ellwood meets Aldo van Eyck..

  • Ballista Magazine

    I would love to see some structural diagrams for that cantilever…this building is too beautiful to succumb to the forces of nature. I would probably shed a tear if that glass gallery shattered after a heavy snow, but I trust OMA has crunched the numbers in any and every way possible. Can’t wait to see it built, but always a structural skeptic. Prove me wrong, Rem! Great building.

  • Architist

    Stack boxes is becoming saturated in architecture!!!! but good relationship has been implemented here!

  • Andres

    this is the architecture that makes us dream, enhances the creation of new ideas

  • bill

    Koolhaas and his layers of boxes…I’ve seen basically all of these circulation ideas before in his proposals for Cornell’s new Architecture building. Also similar in how he was trying to deal with an adjacent historic structure. I guess it will make for some good interior layouts, but the outside doesn’t really excite me. I think its best virtue is its unobtrusiveness, but to claim that it’s dramatic I’m not sure. Its a contemporary style that looks kind of commonplace now, but maybe the point is to provide dramatic interiors within a city that already has its ornate stylings to the street.

    Funny how a school and a museum attracted the same space solutions.

  • Alex G

    It is the Ghery sindrome? I like it but I already see it

  • Clotaire Rapaille

    I live in Quebec City, and believe me, this is ‘dramatic new presence’ !

    This relationship to the street, we have it no where.
    This subtlety in materials, we have it no where.
    Interior layouts like this, we don’t have.
    I’m still trying to find any cantilevered structure of that envergure in Quebec. Not easy. Except from our famous bridge! ;-)

    When I closed my eyes and hoped for Koolhaas to win this competition, it’s exatly a sober proposal like this that I was dreaming of.

    Because that’s the only thing the population of Quebec can tolerate. No extravaganza, no impossible twisted tilts. You have no idea how dead is the architectural brain of this city.

    But then, Koolhaas, he knows how to achieve the highest quality possible ‘out of the simple box. So I’m all for it. Yes !

    • Pierre

      Hey Clotaire,

      I’ve lived in Québec city for a few years. I actually studied architecture there… and I have to disagree with you, just a little.

      The way I see it, the city is not architecturally dead at all! Au contraire! It’s very alive and well. Being one of the oldest cities in North America, Québec is very rich in history, culturally and architecturally.

      First of all, the city of Québec and its university has produced some of the province’s, and dare I say some of Canada’s, best and brightest architects!

      Also, it’s good that we are so careful to what happens to/in it. This very history is what gives Québec city its elegance. We don’t need any flash building to bring attention on us: The city is already well known worldwide!

      You have to understand that Québec’s culture is very complicated: If you mess with Québec city’s architectural fabric with a flashy/trendy building, then it’s as if you’re trying to overshadow the provinces entire culture and go against its history. Obviously, that is a VERY bad thing…

      So just be careful with the Québec bashing. It’s a dumb ass reflex we tend to have in this province.

      Instead, we should be happy to have such an elegant project in our beautiful capital!

      • Clotaire Rapaille

        Hey Pierre !

        I’m happy to see that we agree about the building! We say the exact same, don’t we ?
        I mean, my post was very respectful and satisfied about the elegance of this OMA project for the patrimoine of the city. I also feel, like you do, that this elegance is the only viable option for Québec (no extravaganza, no twisted tilts please). And I studied architecture in Laval too, I’m very proud about the school and its strenghts! Let’s celebrate !

        But then, about the city, we disagree. The fact that it’s one of the oldest city in North America is not a testimony for its actual architectural liveliness. Heritage doesn’t mean actual and doen’t mean tomorrow neither. Don’t get me wrong, I love Quebec City’s patrimoine. When I say we are dead brained, I refer to some exemples of complete inaction towards architecture potential. I mean, they destroyed the façade of that St-Paul church on côte d’Abraham, hinting a lot about our uneffectiveness to solve patrimonial challenges. THAT was lost history ! Makes me shiver.

        Ok, so we are dead, but what’s next ?

        Don’t forget that the 70′s messed with the history and the architectural fabric of Quebec City. We were not so careful at that time. But! We were a visionary city, oriented toward its future. We were all wrong, but now these modernist icons are part of Quebec City’s fabric, and I respect them (complexe G, complexe H, ULaval campus, the now destroyed Mail St-roch and even the Hilton casting shadows on our beautiful parliament). Their flashy 70′s ambition now becomes part of our history, too.

        Then, I ask you again, what’s next ? More of these Ubisoft buildings on boulevard Charest ? More of these Royal Palace in carré d’Youville ? More of these Cominar tower on boulevard Laurier ?

        No ! Please No ! The answer is that we need more of these visionary architecture international competitions that discuss about the historical past of Quebec, as much as it discusses about its future !

        I agree with you, let’s be optimistic !
        And yeah, I appologize, I was wrong. We were not dead, we were sleeping, and now slowly waking up with the dreams of the MNBAQ !

        Oh! Et pourquoi je te parle en anglais ? ;-)

  • alex.age5

    very nice, it doesn’t scream – i’m here! – but it look’s like it was there before, like a part of a city, wish to visit it

  • yeah

    This project reminds me why I loved OMA from the past – simple, intersting, sensitive. More like this and less like CCTV or the
    Rak Jebel Al Jais mountain RAPE please!!!

  • Ken Brooks

    Rem Koolhaus has never met a problem that couldn’t be resolved with a nice big cantilever.

  • squidly

    Building glass boxes in such a cold climate doesn’t make much sense, no matter who are the engineers. Since when do buildings have to glow? i guess they need to glow to win competitions…nice section, though.

  • Archisander

    Did Dutch designer Frederik Roijé get inspired by OMA’s competition entry for the new beaux artsmuseum in quebec? Anyway, his ‘breed retreat’ sure looks like a scale model of the competition entry. For an image of the design by Frederik Roijé, click:

  • mickey

    finally people woke up in this province and made the right move
    architecturally speaking

  • torvizera

    Nice to see a good ol’ OMA project as we like it!! greets

  • beat

    Koolhaas has completely lost his awkwardness that made him so interesting. I suspect that it is because he has let go of a lot of his control over design. This could be any one of a hundred firms out there today. Completely comfortable. Not the amazing Koolhaas I remember.

  • lunafuga

    I simply appreciate the terracing, the beautiful relationship between the building, landscape and the vista. I don’t care whether it’s Koolhaas or some other firm, as long as the project shows this sensitivity with place.

    Obviously, the age of revolutions is long past and Koolhaas is aware of that, although this might be a very revolutionary project for the region itself, if not for the world. I would be pretty damn excited if I could spend a nice afternoon on one of those terraces by the way, and that’s what I’d like to get excited about when I’m in a new building.

  • Vlad Stoica

    glad to see simple austere design and simple effects instead of expensive parametric or agressive angular design that screams for attention. if the finishes will be chosen correctly, this building will be as elegant in 50 years as it is now.

  • David Brussat

    None of the illustrations give much context. I’m not sure where in Quebec City this thing will go. Some illustrations suggest but aren’t clear whether it is in the old town and, if so, the upper or lower part. Can anyone clarify this for me, please?

    • Olivier

      It’s in the upper part, next to Les Plaines d’Abraham, the city’s biggest park.

      On Google Maps :

  • Vlad Stoica

    “Bigness is no longer part of any urban tissue. It exists; at most, it coexists. Its subtext is f*ck context.” R. Koolhaas on Bigness –
    I’m not sure if this applies to this proposal … any thoughts?

  • Pingback: Lo más publicado en internet | AIC Noticias

  • arq.fernandomora

    Old school Babe..! like Dominique Perrault works… So nice…

  • Pingback: Musée National des Beaux Arts du Québec proposal / Barkow Leibinger Architekten | ArchDaily

  • Pingback: Rowlind [dot] Info News : | Musée National des Beaux Arts du Québec proposal / Barkow Leibinger Architekten

  • Pingback: Musée National des Beaux Arts du Québec proposal / Barkow Leibinger Architekten | Building Station

  • ktanleysubrick

    It’s not so original. It’s true. Oma was better in the past. It’s also true. Still I like those images. Interriors are something are interesting and ecletic. They are not all white, like in the rest of proposals;) I think in this competition was OMA, BIG and offices that would like to be OMA or Big, and the original was chosen.

  • Pingback: Musée National des Beaux Arts du Québec proposal / Allied Works Architecture | ArchDaily