Canadian Architect

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Award of Merit: Pavillon Lassonde, cole Polytechnique, Universit de Montral

A new school of engineering will set the stage for future campus expansion.

December 1, 2003
by Canadian Architect

Montreal, Quebec
Saia Barbarese Topouzanov/Desnoyers Mercure et associs/
Menks Shooner Dagenais architectes

Situated adjacent to Mount Royal Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the Pavilion Lassonde affords panoramic views of the city and University of Montreal campus from its steep topographic vantage point. Next to the site lies a landmark Art Deco pavilion by Ernest Cormier. Due to the harsh winter climate in Montreal, the university’s collective interior spaces are of importance on this dramatically sloped site. This interiority is enhanced through the esplanades of the terrain, characterized by two staggered canyons and a bisecting void. Winding and elevated pathways integrate the project’s landscaping with minimal interventionism, while the building design anticipates a second phase of the project and so retains a large mass of forest between each phase. The dynamic interior landscape swallows and reinterprets the exterior courtyard, articulated in harmony with the geomorphic baseline of the site. From this promenade architecturale the institutional program posits a gravitational distribution of the population–classrooms are weighted at the lower levels, offices and laboratories in the middle, and the more tranquil library, reading rooms, and terraces surface at the top. The program is an expansion of the existing facility, and includes housing the Departments of Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering and Computer Studies.

The environmental initiatives for this project include a heat recuperation system dependent entirely upon recycling the heat from the chimneys of the adjacent existing facility. As such the building’s efficiency is prompted to respond exclusively to cooling requirements which in turn justifies the apparent paradox of maximizing glazing to the north and minimizing southern exposure. Faades of the building are expressed as brick venetian blinds, apertures gauged specifically as a direct consequence of exposure to the sun and the reduction of air-conditioning requirements. Exigencies of the LEED program influenced the design process from the initial conception of the building and continued through to the choice of materials, lighting systems, and green roof treatment.

Boutin: This project gains its interest in the way a large institutional building is given order through the use of the existing topography and the development of an artificial topography that connects public spaces in the building and the building to the site. Also of note, and in concert with the occupation of the project’s topography, is the architects’ use of the analogy of “home” that distributes program strategically related to their relative public or private definitions.

Rosenberg: There is a wonderful level of clarity here. The use of muted colours combined with the stepping of the building walk the line between understatement and boldness. It should be noted that of all the Award winners that speak of “green responses”, this project is the only project that is LEED certified.

Sherman: Two qualities in particular distinguish this project. One, its connection to and extension of the existing network of pedestrian space into the interior, although I find the development of those spaces within the interior overly diagrammatic; and two, the unusual way in which the building responds to the sightlines of the curving street by successively peeling back the massing of the upper storeys.

Client: Montral Polytechnique (Universit de Montral)

Architect team: Joe Khalaf, Pierre Robert, Andr Mercure, Franois Hbert, Mario Saa, Marc-Antoine Larose, Andr Kirchhoff, Dominique Gigure, Gatan Roy, Vladimir Toupouzanov, Richard Beaudoin, Cline Gaulin, Catherine Blanger, Isabelle Roy, Anik Shooner, Johanne Parent, Marie-Eve Ethier-Chiasson, Nadia Meratla, Bach Qui Tran, Yvon Thoret, Martine Houle, Guillaume De Lorimier, Annie Paradis, Marie-Christine Bellon-Manzi, Alain Boudrias, David Comtois, Robert Dequoy, Dominique Fragomele, Sylvain Gagn, Marc Pape, Amlie Paquin

Structural: Pasquin St-Jean et associs

Mechanical/Electrical: Bouthillette Parizeau et associs inc.

Landscape: Williams Asselin Ackaoui et associs inc.

Interiors: Saia Barbarese Toupouzanov/Desnoyers Mercure et associs/Menks Shooner Dagenais architectes

Contractor: Le Groupe Axor

Area: 350,000 sq. ft.

Budget: $70 million

Completion: December 2004




Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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