Les Architectes FABG is the winning firm in the architecture competition for a new cultural venue adjacent to the St. Lawrence River in Montreal's Verdun Borough. The project includes a professional theater and also provides for redevelopment and expansion of Verdun's circus school, the École de cirque de Verdun.
The winning team was selected from four finalists, also including Saucier + Perrotte, Architectes; Dan S. Hanganu, Architectes; and Manon Asselin, Architectes in collaboration with Jodoin Lamarre Pratte, Architectes.
Regarding the competition-winning entry by Les Architectes FABG, the jury praised the quality of atmospheres, the development of the nearby river and the views of the surrounding landscape and the overall functionality. The jury emphasized the artistic signature of the projects submitted in the competition.
"We organized architecture competitions in order to develop a project meeting the challenge of converting the former Aréna Guy-Gagnon into a high-quality artistic venue that helps bridge the gap between the audience and the performers," explained Verdun Borough Mayor Claude Trudel, in congratulating the winning firm.
"We were concerned about making a connection between the building and the river as well as the park in which the building is located. This project is meant to be a sign of distinctiveness, yet integration, boldness and exemplariness, from an environmental standpoint," explained Éric Gauthier, a partner at Les Architectes FABG.
On the whole, the project aims at creating a hub for performing arts and circus arts in Verdun. The former arena (located at 5190, boulevard LaSalle) will be redeveloped and slightly expanded in order to better accommodate the existing Studios B and A: A cultural venue will be set up in Studio B. The new, expanded facilities will be more than a traditional theater: they will be used as a venue for creation, production and promotion for various cultural organizations in the arts field. These facilities will include a mediation room, allowing for synergy between the performers and the audience before the shows, as well as an exhibition hall and areas for the performers' living quarters.
Currently, École de cirque de Verdun is located in Studio A, which is to be redeveloped and expanded.
"We want to make Verdun a real cultural hub which—in addition to this cultural venue project—also includes La Station, recognized as a historical monument, which has been restored and converted into an intergenerational centre, inaugurated last week in the L’Île-des-Soeurs neighbourhood, and Maison Nivard-De Saint-Dizier, a museum and archaeological site located on boulevard LaSalle," pointed out Mayor Trudel.
"The materialization of this project to set up this new cultural venue is a fine example of the efforts invested by Montreal's Administration, which aims at positioning culture at the very heart of the development of our metropolis. In fact, Ville de Montréal recently adopted a resolution making culture one of the four pillars of sustainable development—a dynamic force that is making our city a major cultural metropolis. This new cultural venue is consolidating our cultural network and is thereby tangibly embodying the objectives of Réseau Accès culture's 2010-2014 Action Plan. Moreover, the outstanding architecture that will define this new performing arts hub is bringing to light the importance we attach to design—a strategic force not only for the development and recognition of our city, but also a key to improving our residents living environment," added Helen Fotopulos, responsible for culture, heritage, design and the status of women on Ville de Montréal's Executive Committee.
Over the coming months, Les Architectes FABG will be designing the plans and specifications for the project. It will also be responsible for site supervision.
Below are renderings of the three other finalist projects.
Find also plans, sections and elevations of Les Architectes FABG's winning entry in the image gallery below. All images courtesy of Ville de Montréal.