Musée National des Beaux Arts du Québec proposal / Saucier + Perrotte Architectes

© Courtesy of

Canadian Architects Saucier + Perrotte Architectes shared with us the semi-finalist proposal they designed in collaboration with Bélanger, Beauchemin, Morency architectes, for the international competition of the Musée National des Beaux Arts du Québec in Québec City, .

© Courtesy of Saucier + Perrotte Architectes

More images and architect’s description after the break.

The museum expansion project, a glowing glass object, is grounded into its site, at once anchored to the urban axis of the Grande Allée, while dematerializing to respectfully leave place for the existing museum buildings. The bright and reflective project gives life to its site, both at the day’s end and during the gray periods that characterize the colder seasons of Quebec’s winter. By varying in its degrees of transparency, the museum allows for different lighting conditions depending on the artwork exhibited, and simultaneously defines various parcours through the site to give visitors a deeper understanding of the landscape and history in which they are immersed.

© Courtesy of Saucier + Perrotte Architectes

The project’s setback from the Grande Allée is meant to underscore the public nature of the new building. A new public square, framed by the projecting cantilever, emerges off the street to offers visitors an exterior urban space to inhabit before entering the Grand Hall at the heart of the building.

The building, with its sculpted, defined geometry and its generous setback public place, adds new definition to the urban nature of the Grande Allée. The luminous cantilevered volume elegantly signals the presence of the building and traces a connective line to the other dominant element along the Grande Allée, the Saint‐Dominique church clock tower.

The architecture brings together the intimate character of the interior courtyard (formed with the church to the east), the vastness of the landscape of the Champs de Bataille (to the west) and the changing presence of the sky along the edge of the river.

© Courtesy of Saucier + Perrotte Architectes

This site succeeds in being a venue for art without overwhelming the landscape it inhabits. The memory of the place leaves behind an architecture that frames these magnificent vistas, celebrates the area’s history, while becoming a vessel where visitors can encounter the significant collection held within.

The Grand Hall is a spatial object for receiving and orientating visitors, but it also functions at different scales (for exhibitions, large events). The large wood surfaces found in the Hall are used as way‐finding elements for visitors. Connected to the Hall are the inner courtyard and the auditorium, both used for various events, presentations, and lectures. A more intimate foyer, accommodating the auditorium, also links directly to the other spaces of the museum complex including the underground passage. A second foyer, at the lower level is accessible by a long glazed ramp, and it also serves to draw visitors to the new inner courtyard. Should the need arise, the auditorium, its foyers and the courtyard can be accessed from Georges VI Avenue during the opening hours of the museum.

© Courtesy of Saucier + Perrotte Architectes

The artwork in the museum occupies spaces characterized by simplicity of formal expression, ample and rectilinear in nature. The structural parti allows for column‐free space to permit a large degree of flexibility. The galleries are for the most part made up to opaque partitions, but at the north and south ends of the building, these walls are composed of movable panels, louvers which open the spaces up to the city, river for special exhibitions and events.

The museum project’s marked visual and programmatic porosity highlights the important role that this institution plays in Québec’s cultural and social landscape, both at local and international levels.

Cite: Saieh, Nico. "Musée National des Beaux Arts du Québec proposal / Saucier + Perrotte Architectes" 06 Apr 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • Andy Marshall

    Musée National des Beaux Arts du Québec proposal / Saucier + Perrotte Architectes

  • Mic

    For a minute I thought this was an OMA contribution… lol.

  • (tfa)

    i agree.. very seems the OMA’s proposal. how did they choose the winner? hahah..

  • Dustin

    Yes, very similar to OMA’s proposal, although I do prefer OMA’s formal solution to this one. This project was much more successful in showing the buildings context though.

  • Ballista Magazine

    I particularly enjoy the spatial qualities of the lobby space in the second image. The other images are a little over-photoshopped for my taste, but I could definitely get comfortable in that lobby. Oddly similar to the OMA entry (as previously stated), which begs the question: would it be desirable to have two radically different semifinalists or is it a good thing that these two finalists are similar in concept and execution? Hmm.

  • montrealer

    this proposal was not one of the five finalists … probably for that reason

  • Félix

    Just to add to the discussion, take a look at Saucier+Perrotte’ 2004 Canadian Museum for Human Rights project, . Their MNBA proposal is definitely in continuity with it.


    this kind of mapping and photoshoping have no sense, it don’t talk about the project.If it’s like the the canadian museum for human right it could be good, but we don’t have documents to judge it. They make the plans, sure , but who make the illustrations. OMA really know how to communicate and I think that oma’s is very differente.

  • Vlad Stoica

    They seem to forget that museums need modular spaces and that the world is trying to recover from a recession. Not that OMA’s proposal with the huge cantilever is much more in context, but compared to this one, it’s more appropriate I think. PS: The lobby looks very spectacular though… :|

  • mike

    Judging from their built works, I somehow think Saucier+Perrotte is more capable of delivering elegant detailing than OMA

  • brycycle

    while the two proposals are quite similar – one would hope the ‘edge’ would go to the home-grown talent.

    though this project will likely be more successful than recent Starchitect imports (Libeskin’s ROM in Toronto for instance), it is a shame that the trend of Canadians importing architecture for significant cultural institutions continues…

  • Titov

    S+P is always the better.

  • barouette

    Just though I would pitch in…
    Hard to judge some of these images, being very photoshopped, but the spatial quality is, as usual for S+P, very intricate and expressive.

    Home grown talent saucier+perrotte sure is, but OMA being international doesn’t mean there weren’t quebecers on the team…

    I am all for international recognition of canadian architect, but in the end, I think it should not weight to much in the balance and an international competition should be about the architecture, not the nationality… otherwise, why make it international?

    Anyhow, hard to judge a building before its built!

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  • Jimmy Floyd

    The communication is not that good on this project.
    There seems to be a scale mismanagement on the aerial view.
    And there is a big mistake… there is a row of trees that has been chopped in the aerial view…
    big mistake for QC city… and in our world godly greenliness…

    the hall is nice… but where do you put up posters in that space?

    regards to all,,

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