2002 Governor General’s Medals for Architecture: First Nations Garden Interpretive Pavilion, Montreal, Quebec

The First Nations Garden is a permanent commemoration of the Great Peace of Montreal of 1701. The majority of the interpretive pavilion’s volume is outdoor space. It acts as both a filter and a link between the spruce and maple forests, and whenever possible, the exhibition program is moved outdoors. The building and its relationship to the site respect the environmental sensitivity already established for the sprit of the First Nations Garden. Half of the built spaces are below grade to further reduce the impact of the new structure on the existing setting. The footprint was designed to allow the conservation of trees and to keep terrain open. Materials were selected for long life, chemical stability and suitability for re-use, and include poured-in-place concrete, wood, and corten steel.

The original design for Benny Farm, developed after the Second World War as housing for Canadian veterans and their families, retains the distinct character that helped veterans reintegrate into civic life. The architects retained the original plan but refined the crenelated volumes and tightened their configuration in order to permit the planning of more modest lots. An enfilade of longitudinal courtyards planted with trees is the result. These urban courtyards terminate at newly created streets at Benny Avenue and Cavendish Boulevard. Landscaped gardens alternate with architectural expression to structure the space into a rhythmic checkerboard. Privacy is achieved through the use of the brick walls on the buildings’ public facades. Intimate garden faades of anthracite stucco are enlivened with glass guard rails dotted with pea-green spots at each balcony. Textured design, as well as massing and plan, all convey a sense of vitality and renewal in this project, which operates as a continuous ensemble and a reminder of the historical identity of a unique community of dwellers.

Saucier + Perrotte architectes