Palais Des Congrès
The former Palais des Congrès, designed by Victor Prus (1984), was built on top of a submerged autoroute in an area between Old Montreal and the modern downtown core.
Isolated from both the built and social environments the facility no longer satisfied the rising demands linked to its vocation.
The new design doubles the area of the original facility and, while filling the void over the autoroute, also connects to the new Place Riopelle and the bordering streets. Following the urban grid the expansion interweaves with the existing construction and, through the integration of historic buildings, draws upon the vestiges of three centuries of Montréal.
To create a Palais open to the world, its city, and its people, the architectural concept focuses on the aspects of light and transparency with the use of three times more glassed surface area. As a result, at any given time, the Palais and its city appear as an integrated whole.
|The colorful glass facade shows off Montreal’s “Latin” joie de vivre and reputation for festivals and fun.|
|/Mario Saia, Lead design Architect|
A new public promenade links the expanded Viger Hall with that of the formal Bleury Hall. The L-shaped passage, lined with a polychromatic glass skin to the north and west, provides access to the grand escalators. Transversal passages, faithful to the existing lines of Jeanne Mance and Anderson streets, facilitate orientation.
The facades relate to the surrounding areas. On the downtown and Cité Internationale side the desired transparency is articulated through the immense facade whose colored glass panels create an interplay of light and colour, producing an iridescent effect both inside and outside the building. During the day, it is the array of colors that predominates, while the dark of night brings out its transparency.
A luminous marquee runs the length of the facade that forms the defining edge of the Place Jean-Paul Riopelle. The marquee protects the decentralized entrance and, at the same time, creates an intermediate zone between the building and the exterior that encourages neighborly relations.
On the historic and introverted Old Montreal side the building responds to the smaller scale stone buildings by the use of limestone, laid in bands, as a common denominator. Translucent glass permits the internal services to capture daylight without being exposed.
The Palais today, previously isolated in the city, has become a beacon and center of attraction.