Montreal’s expanded convention centre transforms downtown
Last week marked the official opening of one of Montreal's largest recent construction projects -- the $240 million...
Last week marked the official opening of one of Montreal’s largest recent construction projects — the $240 million expansion of the city’s convention centre, the Palais des congres de Montreal.
The bunker-like building that straddles the Ville-Marie Expressway in downtown Montreal has had a complete transformation, not least on the exterior where blank grey concrete has given way to coloured glass walls. An immense new facade along De Bleury Street is likened to both a “kaleidoscope” and a “stained glass window.” In the day it reflects with bright iridescent shades, and in the evening light from behind shows it as transparent. This side of the building will look onto a new public square.
The highly complex construction project was designed and built by the Gespro-BFC-Divco Consortium, beginning in the spring of this year. Consulting engineers are Pageau, Morel, Dessau-Soprin and Genivar. Architects are Tetreault, Parent, Languedoc, Saia et Barbarese and Dupuis Dubuc/Aedifica.
The expansion has doubled the convention exhibition space, enabling the city to attract more international conventions. There are two new reception halls (one on Viger and one on De Bleury), expanded loading facilities from five to 18 spaces, two new bus terminals and 1,200 parking spaces. Construction was made difficult because of the downtown location, and the need to keep traffic and pedestrian flows open.
The designers intend that the new expanded building will integrate neighbourhoods on either side of the Ville-Marie Expressway, by adding multiple pedestrian walkways and cafes and shops.
“It is the culmination of a daunting and highly complex project, primarily because of the location of the Palais and the need to continue operations during construction work,” said Quebec Minister of Municipal Affairs and Greater Montreal, Andre Boisclair. “Montreal had an urgent need for such an infrastructure to compete on a global scale and to attract international conventions and exhibitions.
Scheduled conventions for the next few years include the Gastroenterology Congress in 2005 and the Gay Games to be held in 2006. The latter is expected to attract more than 200,000 visitors. The Quebec government funded the entire costs of the project.