Esplanade PVM, Montreal Urban Landscape, Quebec Masterplan Development, Canadian Architecture Photos
Esplanade PVM in Montreal, Quebec
Apr 4, 2023
Architects: Sid Lee Architecture and Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes
Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada
Photos by David Boyer
The Renewed Esplanade PVM, Quebec
Sid Lee Architecture and Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes reveal the new Esplanade PVM in the heart of downtown Montreal. Designed by Sid Lee Architecture, and executed in collaboration with Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes, the project raises this modern public square to the stature worthy of a world metropolis.
Part of a broader plan to revitalize Place Ville Marie driven by investment from Ivanhoé Cambridge, the redevelopment of all public spaces, from Robert-Bourassa Boulevard to Mansfield Street, and René-Lévesque Boulevard to Cathcart Street, highlights this iconic space as an important gathering place.
A Return to Roots
Kicking off in 2014 with a phase of formal and historical analysis, in some ways the new Esplanade evokes a sense of nostalgia, a return to the source. It reflects Sid Lee Architecture’s desire to reaffirm the importance of the public square, while staying true to the objectives and guidelines of the concept.
“We wanted to propose a refreshed vision for the Esplanade, one which preserved some of the natural elements from its last transformation, while restoring its original formal qualities and minerality,” explains Jean Pelland, Architect and Principal Partner at Sid Lee Architecture.
The last redevelopment was carried out in the 1980s to give the Esplanade the appearance of a large garden. This time, the firm returned to the space’s primary function and aesthetics, drawing its influences from modernist principles like the infinite grid and the free flow of the urban platform. The approach and final concept were presented to the famous original designer, Henry N. Cobb, who expressed enthusiasm for this new vision.
Principle of Continuity
Making the Esplanade visually and physically accessible: this principle guided every aspect of the redevelopment proposed by the architectural firm. “We accepted from the outset that recreating the public square was going to require some real finesse, and that the primary objective was to preserve spatial continuity, while multiplying opportunities to create places of socialization,” says Jean Pelland.
Based on this principle of continuity, the architects founded their approach on the preexisting idea of an oversized slab on which buildings are simply placed. The minerality and fluidity of this layout hold other benefits; the open spaces are conducive to hosting events and the occasional transformation for new public activation programs.
The simplicity of detail makes the space easy to read. It dissolves the boundaries between the business district, social areas, and cultural areas. The renewed Esplanade thus captures the abundant dynamism of its urban environment and links life on the street to the interior of the buildings.
Opening the Esplanade
This major revitalization restores an emblematic downtown Montreal space to a privileged place at the heart of the city’s cultural and commercial life. Through the reconfiguration of its connection to the underground network, the modernization of its shopping mall, and the renovation of the entrance halls, the architectural response implemented connects it more than ever to urban life.
Paramount in the transformation is the reopening of the periphery of Place Ville Marie. Lined with stairs around the buildings, the public square invites circulation between the street and the interior. “Now linked to the central axis of McGill College Avenue by a monumental staircase, the Esplanade PVM opens up a remarkable view on Mount Royal,” says Yves Dagenais, architect and senior partner at Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes. This staircase, including an embedded access ramp, creates a direct link that ensures fluid movement between the street and the raised public space. The large entrance to the underground parking lot that previously favored vehicular crossings was moved aside to welcome foot traffic.
Once punctuated by four modest skylights, the Esplanade now boasts one of the largest horizontal glass structures in North America. The reflective effect created by this glass pavilion is reminiscent of the water basins typical of the public squares of the modernist era. This impressive, seemingly floating structure provides direct access to the 4-season Cathcart Restaurants & Biergarten in the heart of the underground gallery. “The extraordinary 16-foot-high glass pavilion is supported by 18 glass beams. It not only houses the food court, but also beautifully blurs the boundaries between inside and outside, contributing to the life of the public square,” adds Yves Dagenais.
The return to a uniform materiality permeates the entire architectural landscape, bringing together public areas and buildings. The choice of materials and the arrangement of forms reaffirm the idea of a universal layout, a foundational concept of Place Ville Marie. Evident even in the Esplanade’s tiling, this grid links the towers visually and underscores the importance of the character of this project to the heart of the city.
The public square now offers a direct visual and physical connection to Mount Royal through the McGill College axis. This connection is enhanced by the Ring, a monumental installation by CCxA, that frames the emblematic view. The renewed Esplanade PVM is a refreshed version of what it once was, now easier to navigate, socialize in, and enjoy.
Esplanade PVM in Montreal, Quebec – Building Information
Design: Sid Lee Architecture – https://sidleearchitecture.com/en/
and Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes – https://www.msdl.ca/en
Location: Place Ville Marie
Client: Ivanhoé Cambridge
Area: 150 000 sq. ft.
Concept & vision: Sid Lee Architecture
Execution: Consortium Sid Lee Architecture | Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes
General contractor: Pomerleau
Structural engineers: NCK Inc.
Electromechanical engineers: Bouthilette Parizeau (BPA)
Lighting consultant: Lightemotion
Project management: JAJKO
Glass specialists: Seele and Techniverre
About Sid Lee Architecture
Sid Lee Architecture is an affiliate of Sid Lee creative agency. The firm was founded by architects and urban designers Jean Pelland and Martin Leblanc, business partners since 1999. Today, the pair leads a multidisciplinary team of 70 professionals from the fields of urban planning, architecture, and interior design.
Since 2015, Sid Lee Architecture has been a member of kyu, a collective of creative companies established by Hakuhodo DY Holdings. Sid Lee Architecture is overseeing several projects involving the repositioning of modern heritage buildings in Montreal’s business district. The firm recently collaborated with Ivanhoé Cambridge on the Projet Nouveau Centre action plan, after which major renovation projects were assigned to the team.
The projects include the transformation of the emblematic Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel and the creation of the C2 Space on its rooftop. As for Place Ville Marie, Sid Lee Architecture is involved in multiple renovation assignments, including the revitalization of its observatory, the Cathcart Restaurants & Biergarten, and Galerie PVM, as well as the development of Sid Lee’s new international headquarters.
About Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes
Founded in 1994 by Anik Shooner, Yves Dagenais, and René Menkès, and joined in 2004 by Jean-Pierre LeTourneux, the firm combines passion, creativity, and know-how, while putting people at the heart of its projects. Over the years, its team has worked to create exceptional living environments in the institutional, residential, commercial, cultural, and corporate sectors. Focusing its interventions on innovation, sustainable development, and the perenniality of cities, MSDL Architects has forged a reputation for excellence in architectural design and has recognized experience in the realization of complex projects of all sizes.
Moreover, the firm has gained the trust of many renowned institutions and Canadian or international companies for which it has realized many flagship buildings in Montreal, including the Cité du multimédia Phase 8, the Maison du développement durable, Maison Manuvie, YUL centre-ville, the Science Complex of Université de Montréal, the new head office of the National Bank, and the Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme of Place des Arts.
Photographers: David Boyer
Esplanade PVM, Montreal, Quebec images / information received 040423 from v2com newswire
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