A new bus stop in Montreal will include a 64-foot-tall, Ferris Wheel–shaped art installation that cost the city a cool $840,000. For blatantly obvious reasons, many Quebecois aren’t thrilled about that—in no small part because the expensive art project is in a part of Montreal that is struggling to combat poverty. CityLab reported that the sculpture, called La Vélocité des lieux (the Velocity of Places), is part of a larger reconstruction of an intersection that is set to include a park, bus rapid transit, and new housing. The wheel was designed by BGL, a Quebec City–based art collective, that was dubbed “Canada's Art-World Class Clowns” by Vox, and more recently represented Canada at the Venice Biennale. The trio of so-called class clowns won a competition to design the art piece for the intersection in 2012 When the wheel is completed in September, bus frames will zip around its circular frame as a gesture toward the bus stop below. In a statement, BGL said the installation embodies “dizziness, playfulness, [and] community spirit.” But right now at least, the community is pretty mixed on the project. In an interview with Montreal CTV, one local resident praised the wheel saying that it would help put Montreal-Nord on the map, but many others have said the money spent on the wheel should have gone toward schools, roads, and social programs. Chantal Rossi, a city councilor for Montrea-Nord, defended the controversial project, saying that the area deserves public art just like anywhere else in the city. “The people will be proud of it,” she said.
Posts tagged with "Montreal":
Urbanists rejoice! Montreal will tear down a major piece of one of its expressways and replace it with a multi-modal urban boulevard complete with parks, dozens of new trees, bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes, a dog park, and art installations. The Montreal Gazette reported that crews will start dismantling the city’s Bonaventure Expressway this spring, and that the entire $141.6 million project should wrap up as soon as 2017. “At the centre of the massive project, which was subject to public consultation in 2009, are 42-metre wide public-park spaces, totalling more than 20,000 square metres, that will separate the north and southbound roadways,” reported the Gazette. An original plan would have placed new buildings on the sites now slated for parks. Montreal’s mayor said that the city’s independent inspector will monitor the project for possible corruption. [h/t Planetizen]
With 50 pivoting prisms, Toronto-based architecture firm RAW has transformed downtown Montreal into an interactive kaleidoscope. The installation, called Prismatica, is one of two winners selected in the city’s fifth annual Luminothérapie competition. This is the first time that a non-Quebec based firm has won the competition, so congrats to RAW. “The 50 pivoting prisms are made of panels laminated with a dichronic film that transmits and reflects every colour in the visible spectrum, varying with the position of the light source and the observer,” RAW explained in a statement. “The prisms are mounted on bases containing projectors. As visitors wander among and manipulate the prisms, they will enjoy an infinite interplay of lights and colourful reflections. As the prisms rotate, a variable-intensity soundtrack comprised of bell sounds will play.” The director of the firm, Rom Colthoff, added: “We wanted to contribute an installation that was immersive, yet inviting. We wanted people to play around, have fun and, in doing so, forget about the cold.” While impressive, the installation probably isn’t enough to get people to forget about the cold—the bitter, bitter cold. Prismatica is on display until February 1st.
Thomas Jefferson embraced the architecture of Andrea Palladio as model for 18th century America, but he never actually visited any of the Veneto architect's buildings. Instead he came to know Palladio through Giacomo Leoni's first English translation of Quatro Libri dell'Architettura published in 1721. Now a beautifully-realized photographic exhibition, Found in Translation: Palladio–Jefferson, at the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal subtly focuses on Jefferson's translation of Palladian architectural form into buildings for the new democratic nation. Created and conceived by the Italian photographer Filippo Romano and Guido Beltramini, director of the Palladio Museum, the show features side-by-side images of Palladio's Veneto buildings and Virginia 'replicas' in the master's style. The exhibit also features original Palladio and Leoni books. Rather than focus on the American translation—which many scholars and artists have already done—this show highlights the American structures as a way of highlighting the master's resilient but irreducible Italian architecture. Romano's images all foreground the architecture in contemporary situations—being visited, for example, by tourists—to remove a second time from its original context and further highlight the architecture's enduring principles. The show runs until February 15th in the CCA's Octagonal Gallery and bookstore.
Photoengraved concrete connects past and present in Montreal student housing.Though the site on which KANVA's Edison Residence was recently constructed stood vacant for at least 50 years, its emptiness belied a more complicated history. Located on University Street just north of McGill University's Milton gates, the student apartment building lies within one of Montreal's oldest neighborhoods. Photographs dating to the mid-19th century show a stone house on the lot, but by 1960 the building "had disappeared; it was erased," said founding partner Rami Bebawi. Excavation revealed that the original house had burned to the ground. Prompted by the site's history, as well as an interest in exploring cutting-edge concrete technology, the architects delivered a unique solution to the challenge of combining old and new: a photoengraved concrete facade featuring stills from Thomas Edison's 1901 film of Montreal firefighters. Knowing that Edison Residence would be subject to heavy use by its student occupants, KANVA chose concrete—featured on the interior as well as the building envelope—for its durability and sustainability. But the architects were not interested in sticking to tried-and-true building methods. "Being right in front of a university, we took it upon ourselves to say, 'We're going to push concrete technology,'" explained Bebawi. "We wanted the building itself to be a laboratory to experiment with concrete, and to make this innovation public and accessible to all." Because they also hoped to use the facade to tell a story, they turned to photoengraving, a technique developed by the German firm Reckli. Reckli translates black and white images into grooves of different depths and widths that offer a total of 256 shades of grey. "It brings the building to life, just like cinematography brings photos to life," said Bebawi, noting that the images may appear and disappear according to one's viewpoint. "It's not a stain. We're looking at something that is permanent, yet dynamic." Choosing the content of the photoengraved panels proved more difficult. "Here's a tool that's powerful, but very scary," said Bebawi. "It's like a billboard in Times Square, but it doesn't change every 30 seconds. You have this kind of social responsibility [to make an appropriate choice]." Thinking about photoengraving's capacity to animate a building led KANVA to early moving pictures, or "tableaux mouvants," and in turn to Edison's role in developing film technology. When they discovered his Montreal Fire Department on Runners, filmed just blocks away from the Edison Residence site, they knew they had it. "All of sudden we closed the loop," recalled Bebawi. "Fires transformed the city." The architects extracted twenty images from the film and sent them to Germany, where Reckli manufactured rubber liners for use during the pouring of the precast panels. Local prefabricated concrete company Saramac fabricated and installed the panels back in Montreal. For continuity, all of the street facade's glazing (manufactured and installed by Groupe Lessard) features additional screen-printed stills from Edison's film. Depending on the position of the sun, the film sequence becomes more or less visible. Variations in the facade depth form a base and cornice, and add to the effect. "When the sun's not at the right angle, the grooves make it look like it's simply an inserted masonry building," said Bebawi. "At other times, it comes to life." Other aspects of the building, including the prominent porte-cochère, nod to local architectural traditions. Yellow metal accents offer additional animation "by sort of an urban signal," said Bebawi. "This yellow is screaming out. It pulls you into the porte-cochère entrance and is expressed on lateral and rear facades." The remainder of the building is unornamented concrete, in keeping with the quarter's environmental code. "It had to be a masonry building according to the heritage standards," said Bebawi. "Obviously, we played with that: 'I can fit your rules, but speak in terms of 2014.' It was a great collaboration with municipal and provincial authorities." Edison Residence embodies a third way to reconcile new construction with history. "When you think about our relationship to the past in terms of architecture, you can demolish it, imitate it, or contrast it," said Bebawi. "This building takes a different position. Depending on the way you place yourself, sometimes the past appears, and sometimes it doesn't."
An upcoming Montreal colloquium, Unsitely: Leveraging Design to Improve Urban Construction Sites, will take on a seemingly small urban problem that, in fact, has a profound effect on the daily life of the city: the temporary barriers surrounding construction sites. The event will explore existing innovative design solutions and how these can revitalize streets, districts, or entire neighborhoods. In addition Unsitely will address whether design—graphic, architectural, interior, industrial, landscape, event-based, etc.—can be called on in early phases of planning, conception, and activation of these worksites and provide creative solutions to this major universal challenge? AN is media sponsor of the event and will be on the ground reporting on its findings and conclusions. However if you want to participate in the colloquium, you can sign up here and take part live online. The event is organized by the Ville de Montreal’s Design Bureau in collaboration with the Ville-Marie borough in downtown Montreal (Québec, Canada) and the Saint-Étienne Cité du design (France). It will take place on October 8–9, 2014 in conjunction with the 27th annual Entretiens Jacques Cartier.
Given the past few weeks of Citi Bike news, the events that played out over last weekend shouldn’t come as a surprise. But, alas, they do. Bixi— the bankrupt Montreal company behind Citi Bike's glitchy equipment—was purchased by, who else, a Canadian furniture magnate named Bruno Rodi. Yes, the man whose company sells living-room furniture and bills itself as the "spécialiste du sofa" will himself become the "spécialiste du vélo." Rodi's winning offer of about $3.6 million (US) was around $1.4 million less than a bid put together by Related and Equinox Fitness. But the higher offer was dismissed by a judge who ruled that it missed the deadline and didn't include the minimum deposit. So, what does Rodi plan to do with Bixi? That’s hard to answer because he’s not currently talking to the press. He's busy sailing around the Indian Ocean at the moment. Why? Because he’s a world traveler, that's why. He’s reportedly sailed every sea and visited nearly every World Heritage Site. And one time, he rode his bike along the entire route of the Tour de France. As problems mount for Citi Bike, the people at CitiGroup are pretty darn satisfied with their involvement in the program. Citi's head of creative and media for North America marketing, Elyssa Gray, recently said they're already seeing returns on their initial investment. [h/t The Atlantic Cities.]
The Plage de l'Est, a heretofore unoccupied site along the shores of the St. Lawrence River will now be recast as a recreational gathering area for Montreal residents. The overhaul of the vacant area has been mooted since 2010, but in 2013 the city put out a call for ideas for the project. Ultimately the submission from Ruccolo + Faubert Architectes & Ni conception architecture de paysage emerged from a field of 5 finalists in a recent decision. The winning proposal is anchored by a large boardwalk that emerges from the river and extends into the surrounding terrain. In keeping with the competition brief, the architectural additions to the vacant site are harmoniously integrated into the surrounding landscape. The multilevel design accommodates pedestrian traffic, creates enclosed rooms, and offers spaces for aquatic recreation. The walkway juts out over the water, thus creating an observation point that allows for uninterrupted views of the St. Lawrence. This overhang also serves to provide shelter for boating and swimming equipment stored below. The proposal calls for fairly minimal interventions to the remainder of the over 2,000-square-foot project site. A building housed within the boardwalk looks out onto a shallow pool that is fed by a constant stream and filled by an arrangement of sculpted cubes. During the winter months it will double as an ice skating rink. Larger cubes are scattered elsewhere along the shoreline to cordon off another area designated for aquatic play. Large fields round out the back end of the site and are currently equipped for badminton and volleyball, though their roles are meant to shift as new needs arise. The structure is to be realized in raw, environmentally-friendly materials, bestowing a naturalism to the design heightened by extensive planting of shrubbery and larger greenery. The project comes with a $3 million budget, and construction is scheduled to commence later this year. Officials are eying a 2016 completion date. The stretch of the St. Lawrence where the new boardwalk will be located in Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles Borough, a suburb on the eastern end of the Island of Montreal. The Plage de l’Est design is part of Entente Montreal, a larger initiative currently afoot in the city meant to reinforce Montreal’s 2006 designation as a UNESCO City of Design. Borough mayor Manon Gauthier hailed the RFA design as "a new, shared natural treasure worthy of our status as a UNESCO City of Design." Their submission beat out proposals from fellow Québécois firms Architecture Microclimat, Ateleier Barda & Nip Paysage, Groupe Rousseau Lefebvre, and The Commons. Each plan was presented to a public audience this past December with RFA’s victory announced January 20.
Architects are probably the only people who like to see a construction site. We love to see building cranes, steel workers, and scaffolding—if only because it means architects are working and paying the rent. But for most urban dwellers these work places are "unsitely" disruptions to daily life and noisy irritations. Now Montreal’s Design Bureau, in collaboration with the city's downtown Ville-Marie borough and the Saint-Étienne Cité du Design (France), are launching an effort to correct this situation and asking architects for help. They will host a colloquium called "Unsitely! Leveraging Design to Improve Urban Construction Sites" on October 8-9, 2014. They are asking architects to submit proposals on how design can improve individual and collective experience, and the overall communication strategy of major worksites, or at least to contribute to reducing their negative impact on daily life. Architects (and others) should submit cases studies that address these issues by Tuesday, December 17, 2013. For additional information, contact colloquium executive producer, Laetitia Wolff.
MammaFotogramma designed a plywood and high-performance mesh composite that is scored on a CNC mill to facilitate textile-like movement.WoodSkin is a flexible wood surfacing material developed by interdisciplinary design studio MammaFotogramma. The concept is an exploration of movement developed for Autoprogettazione 2.0, an open-source design competition from 2012 that originated in the firm's work in stop motion animation. "We're still in animation production, but what we do is all about movement," said studio founder Giulio Masotti. MammaFotogramma’s current work includes architecture and design projects as well as a lab that evolved naturally as projects came in, where collaborators develop new techniques for hybridized exploration. "Project after project, we saw we were applying movement everywhere, not because it was a need but because it's how we work and what we explore," said Masotti. Later in 2012, after the competition, the composite wood material was first fabricated as an interior finish for the lobby of Allez Up, an indoor rock-climbing facility in Montreal. "When we figured out what we wanted to do, we knew we needed something different," said Masotti. "We needed a system, not just a project solution." The goal was to design a visually appealing material that could be used in a static way with the possibility for movement. To realize this, the studio devised a flexible wood composite by sandwiching Russian plywood sheets around a high-performance nylon and a polymer composite mesh, joined by a custom mix of adhesives. The mesh acts to free the plywood from its flat state and facilitate movement. The three-part compression process also strengthens the adhesive bonds and supports the skin's movements. For the Allez Up lobby desk, 15,000 triangular tiles were scored into the composite's surface via CNC mill to form a boulder-like organic shape. What began as an "analog process" of sketching and handcrafting has been adapted for parametric tools because of software’s capabilities to adapt to changes throughout the design development process. Though the design capabilities are quite extensive, fabrication methods can still be quite expensive. "The processes of computer aided design can bring you far, but when it comes time to build, the technology is behind and the process becomes complicated and expensive." To start bridging this gap, MammaFotogramma is developing a custom plugin for Rhino, with the hope that the process of fabricating WoodSkin could be replicated in multiple materials. "The skin is made of wood but the process allowed us to collaborate with other companies that can apply their solid materials," said Masotti. "These kinds of skins will hopefully be applied to existing materials for different finishes, such as fire and water proofing." WoodSkin prototypes were exhibited at Fuorisalone in Milan. A recent collaboration with Italian fabricator Biffi Carpentry has opened the WoodSkin process to the possibility of more commercial projects, as well as innovative indoor/outdoor structures like cover systems or flexible walls. "You can transform the shape you have in the skin and you can dictate the quality, thickness, and pattern for something totally unique," said Masotti.
Designed a year before his death in 1968, Mies van der Rohe’s Esso station on l’Île des Sœurs in Montreal has been vacant and shuttered since 2008. The station, intended to serve nearby apartment blocks also designed by Mies, was built during the early urbanization of the island and closed when another station opened closer to the island’s main thoroughfare. Having been declared a historic monument in 2009, the community eventually decided to restore the structure and convert it to an intergenerational community center. The renovation, designed by Éric Gauthier of Montreal-based Les Architectes FABG, maintains the structure’s layout and keeps original features intact, including the structure's brickwork and beams. A cantilevered steel roof bridges two glass pavilions, one originally housing a store and the other a rest area. In between, where gas pumps and an attendant’s booth once stood, intake/outtake vents for new geothermal energy wells mimic the original pumps while the booth in the center will house displays on Mies’ and the station’s history. Gauthier also maintained the original strips of fluorescent lighting that stretch across the underside of the roof from one pavilion to the other; the effect is striking, unifying the space as they run through the glass curtain walls.
Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War Canadian Centre for Architecture 1920, rue Baile Montréal, Québec, Canada Through September 18 How did World War II impact the built environment? This new exhibit curated by Jean-Louis Cohen explores how 20th century architects contributed to the war efforts and how their work ultimately led to the modern structural and technological innovations that make some of today’s complex designs possible. WWII was an accelerator of technological innovation, and from 1937 to 1945 architects were frequently pressed to pursue the most modern solutions, which often meant the most cutting edge. Designed by New York-based WORKac, the exhibit is comprised of drawings, photographs, posters, books, publications, models, historical documents, and films that reveal how contemporary architecture left its mark on the landscapes of both the Axis and the Allied powers. Organized thematically, the exhibition focuses on wartime activity as well as architects and their projects in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the United States, and the USSR. Architecture in Uniform is part of a larger project at the CCA that examines the various roles of architecture from the Second World War to today called On the Natural History of Destruction.