Posts tagged with "Quebec":

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OMA’s Shohei Shigematsu spreads his wings in Québec City

As with much of OMA’s recent work, the firm’s latest building is exemplary for what it lacks. Instead of the complex structural flourishes of the CCTV Headquarters and many of the firm’s other mid-aughts projects, the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion at the Musee National des Beaux Arts du Québec (MNBAQ) is a lesson in more subtle design maneuvers: Its stacked massing, articulated in three varieties of glass, contains contemporary Québécois art and design galleries connected by a curvilinear glass balustrade and a predominantly white palette. Yet the most notable absence at the June 24 inauguration was that of OMA founder Rem Koolhaas. Instead, Shohei Shigematsu, who heads the firm’s New York office and served as partner-in-charge on the MNBAQ addition, spoke on behalf of the firm and explained that changes are indeed underway inside OMA as he led press and visitors through the new building.

Koolhaas’s absence at the inauguration by no means signals his retreat from design duties at the firm that, until recently, derived nearly all of its notoriety from the prestige associated with his own work and name. He continues to lead many of the firm’s most high-profile projects, last year’s Fondazione Prada in Milan and next year’s Taipei Performing Arts Center among them. Yet the pronounced emphasis at the recent inauguration on Shigematsu’s tenure as director of OMA New York bespeaks a new phase in OMA’s trajectory, one in which numerous of the firm’s seven partners work with greater autonomy from Koolhaas himself. “Me being recognized or other partners being recognized — not just Rem, actually reinforces the identity of the organization,” Shigematsu told The Architect's Newspaper at the Québec inauguration. He is by no means an outlier in this development. Rotterdam-based partners Reinier de Graaf and Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli have also grown prominent within the OMA cosmology in recent years, the former as a polemicist and the latter for his preservation work and leadership of the firm’s ongoing, manifold collaboration with Prada. The present devolution of design authority is markedly different from the firm’s operations a decade prior, when numerous of the leading architects at OMA, like Bjarke Ingels, Ole Scheeren, and Joshua Prince-Ramus, began leaving to open their own offices. “I’m basically, probably doing the same thing inside [the firm],” Shigematsu noted, “A lot of senior people have started to stay.”

On the Grande Allée in Québec City, the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion acts as an intermediary between traffic along one of the city’s main arteries and the National Battlefields Park where the museum’s three other buildings are situated. The new building also expands connections between the capital of Francophone Canada and the international art milieu, as it shares formal tropes with recent cultural institutions designed elsewhere by OMA (the MNBAQ’s gold elevator core shares a chromatic palette with Prada and Laparelli’s recently-completed Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice, Italy). Shigematsu is quick to note that the shared color schemes across partners are part and parcel of an expanding practice: “Not just metallic, but the attention to detail and refinement that we can bring,” he mused. “We have the luxury to now build so much with a sense of maturity as an architecture firm.”

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OMA’s Pierre Lassonde Pavilion in Quebec City edges closer to completion

The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ)'s new Pierre Lassonde Pavilion, designed by International firm OMA working alongside with Provencher_Roy architectes of Montréal, is set to open in just over two months time. As work edges closer to completion, MNBAQ has announced that the building will open on June 24 of this year, coinciding with the Québec’s national holiday, “La Fête nationale.” As a result, there will be three days of free public programs and festivities. Once open, the pavilion will offer 160,380 square feet of space—an increase of 90 percent on the MNBAQ's current capacity for exhibition space. Here, both permanent and temporary exhibits will be hosted inside column-free galleries that make use of a hybrid steel truss system for structural support. Also included will be a 250-seat auditorium, café, and museum store, all encapsulated by three tiered cuboid volumes, the highest of which (at 87 feet) will overlook the street. Within the staggered volumetric space, a series of mezzanines will create a visual link between the exhibition spaces and aid spatial orientation through a spiral staircase that offers "orchestrated views." On top, roof terraces will provide space for outdoor displays and activities while the 41-foot-high Grand Hall will connect the building to the street, looking onto the sheltered Grande Allée. Also on the pavilion's exterior, a pop-out staircase symbolizes the visual connection of the cascading volumes from an external perspective, also giving users views on to the park. Pierre Lassonde, chair of the MNBAQ board of directors, said, “We are delighted to be only weeks away from welcoming the public into this brilliantly conceived design by OMA, which will do so much to help us celebrate the art and artists of Québec. With this beautifully functioning and symbolically important addition, our museum now rises to a new level of service for the people of Québec City, and a new prominence for visitors from around the world.” “Our design stacked three gallery volumes in a cascade that continues the topography of the park. The activity of the city extends below, providing a new point of interface between the city and the park,” said OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu. “Art becomes a catalyst that allows the visitor to experience all three core assets – park, city, and museum – at the same time.”
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CannonDesign to deliver new hospital to l’Université de Montreal

It has been 30 years since Montreal has built a new hospital. CannonDesign in association with Montreal based NEUF Architect(e)s, and l’Université de Montreal aim to amend that situation with a new three tower hospital complex. Since its founding in 1995, Centre Hospitalier de Montreal (CHUM) has hoped to consolidate the three hospitals that make up its network: Hotel Dieu, Hopital St. Luc and Hopital Notre-Dame. Overcoming political wrangling and changes of governments, it would be ten years before the two square block site in the heart of the city was settled on and approved. Adjacent to the current Hopital St. Luc, CHUM when complete will be one of the largest academic medical centers in North America. With an estimated cost of over $2 million, the hospital will be the largest public/private partnership building project in North America. With a goal of engaging the surrounding community, the complex includes large public gathering spaces, more intimate spaces of contemplation, and monumental art pieces, all in a landscape between three towers. At the heart the project will sit the curvaceous 500-seat auditorium building. The perforated metal clad auditorium forefronts the hospitals role as a center of education and research. CHUM will be the anchor of the Quartier de la Santé — Montreal’s new health district. Its location between two of Montreal’s more dynamic neighborhoods (Vieux Montreal and the Latin Quarter) will also provide active link in area that currently divides the city. The first construction phase, which will include all of the 772 single-patient rooms, as well as the diagnostic and treatment rooms, is set to be completed in fall 2016.  The second and final phase should be complete in 2020. Phase Two will include an auditorium and administrative office building.
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Montreal to transform expressway into multi-modal urban boulevard

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]
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KANVA’s Edison Residence Animates History

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."
  • Facade Manufacturer Reckli (photoengraved liners), Saramac (concrete), Groupe Lessard (glazing), PanFab (metal inserts)
  • Architects KANVA
  • Facade Installer Saramac, Groupe Lessard, PanFab
  • Location Montreal
  • Date of Completion August 2014
  • System photoengraved precast concrete with screen-printed glazing, metal accents
  • Products precast concrete, Groupe Lessard glazing, PanFab custom metal inserts
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."
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New Forest Installation is Equal Parts Alien and Harmonious

Not easily seen, a new installation by Spanish architecture group Citylaboratory is worth the trek. ROTUNDA was created as part of Quebec's International Garden Festival (International Festival des Jardins de Metis) an annual event that includes a competition soliciting innovative garden designs from studios across the world. Rotunda was one of 6 proposals selected from 293 submissions ultimately selected for realization this summer. The Citylaboratory creation is designed to make a minimal impact on its forest setting. The shallow black basin in the form of an oblong circle is crafted in steel and only makes contact with the ground at a slight foundation point. Once filled with water the form dematerializes into its woody surroundings, an ever-shifting canvas for its floral and faunal cohabitants. The architects make clear that following its inauguration, ROTUNDA is not meant to be refilled but rather "left to evolve over time." In being abandoned to the elements the installation thus becomes an abstract barometer for shifts in the forest's climate. Temperature, humidity, and precipitation will all have their say in directing the shifting fate of the structure. Beyond perhaps an obvious function as a birdbath, Citylaboratory feel that the accumulation of leaves, dust, and pollen will make ROTUNDA a source of growth and cultivation for forest life of all kinds. All 6  gardens will open May 31.
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Surface Deep: Undulating Installation Invites Visitors to Climb Atop Its Mossy Nooks

large-surface deep

Asensio_mah & Harvard's Graduate School of Design's moss-covered installation is architecture on the cellular level

When visitors stroll through Quebec's Redford Gardens, the first of many large installations they come upon is Surface Deep, an undulating, moss-covered structure designed by international architecture firm asensio_mah in collaboration with students from Harvard's Graduate School of Design. It was built last summer, but with this year's Metis International Garden Festival, Surface Deep is once again getting major foot traffic in the most literal sense of the word. Surface Deep is a mountable, climbable series of snaking panels that invites visitors to explore it in its entirety, from its long, sweeping form to its small, mossy nooks. The panels vary in height depending on their angle, but have a constant width of 0.5m. The plywood frame and the patterned overlays were made at the Harvard Graduate School of Design's Fabrication Laboratory over a two-week period using CNC milling, robotic water jet cutting and welding. White celltech plastic trays were constructed to house the moss substrate, which were then fixed within the plywood frame and covered with panels. The parts were shipped to Quebec and assembled on site with steel anchor plates. Once the team had an idea of the overall gesture of the installation, they worked with a local biologist, Suzanna Campeau at Bryophyta Technologies, to determine which species of mosses were best suited to the microclimates created by the varying orientations and lean of the individual panels. Some panels, for example, receive full sunlight while others are in constant shade. According to the students, "the first 11 units were made with Niphotrichum canescens (a sun-loving species), unit 12 is planted with Callicladium haldanianum while the other units remaining (13 to 22) were made with a mixture of Callicladium haldanianum and other shade-loving, forest species such as Pleurozium schreberii and Ptilium crista-castrensis." Campeau grew the moss on a geotextile, a permeable fabric often used with soil for erosion control or slope stabilization. The "moss textile" was then installed on a plywood substrate and into the panel system where it's held in place by the webbed overlay. The team used the cellular structure of moss as their design inspiration for the web-like panel pattern, though they have practical applications as well. The panels help with water retention, keep the moss protected and actually provide it with some shade, albeit on the micro level. It requires watering, but the overall maintenance is quite low. And though Surface Deep is not considered permanent, the installation will be kept in the park for several years to come. Surface Deep 10 Surface Deep16