PLACE DES FESTIVALS, MONTREAL
Firm: Daoust Lestage, Montreal
Team: Reál Lestage with Caroline Beaulieu, Lucie Bibeau, Renée Daoust, Marie-Josée Gagnon, Marie-Pier Marchand, François Ménard, Stéphane Savoie, Eveline Simard, Catherine St-Marseille and Nathalie Trudel
Occupying a large site in the heart of Montreal, Places des Festivals is among the most welcoming redevelopment projects to emerge in North America, comparable with New York’s High Line or Battery Park City. Its success rests not just on well-appointed features, such as rows of new and mature trees, refined street furniture and a vivid white-black hardscape, but also in its ability to assume multiple identities. On any given day, 235 high-pressure water jets pierce the pavers underfoot with an interactive show of illuminated water, while a central fountain shoots over three storeys high. Programmed to respond to movement, light and sound, the plaza’s computer-controlled geysers have become a favourite spot for impromptu refreshment on sweltering summer days.
Stop by when the city’s renowned International Jazz Festival is happening, and you’ll see performances of a different sort. Suddenly, the square’s grassy plains and plazas are transformed into an urban theatre that can host 25,000 music fans, all beneath a series of sculptural light towers. As the architects themselves like to say about their open-air venue, which can handle concert-grade wiring and lighting, “It magnifies the stage to the scale of the city.”
Place des Festivals is a key component of the Quartier des Spectacles, an ambitious urban redevelopment that began in 2002 and has since transformed the city’s former red-light district into an impressive cultural hub. After a decade of planning and construction, its completion has given Montrealers a stunning environment where they can revel in public life and crowd-swelling culture.
THE FIRM Principals Renée Daoust and Réal Lestage are critically acclaimed for their ambitious and sophisticated master plans. The firm is also fully engaged in commercial interior design, residential architecture and street furniture design.
What the jury said:
“This space is part green and part hard, which means during the course of a year it can have many different lives. Daoust Lestage has built an environment out of the whole cloth, and we should all be doing a lot more of that.”
– Ken Smith, Ken Smith Workshop