August 1, 2003
by Canadian Architect
Agmont America, Montreal, Quebec
Architectes Lemay et associes
Agmont America specializes in the manufacture of dyes for the textile market. This project is a new extension to an existing factory and is located in an old industrial zone on the south side of the Lachine Canal, overlooking downtown Montreal. Within the framework of a revitalization of the Lachine Canal, this project is an example of contributing to a renewed industrial landscape. The new building represents 5,000 m2 of production space and 500 m2 of offices on the upper floor. It is perfectly integrated into the existing structural elements and the treatment of the faade represents many of the formal characteristics found within the neighbouring context.
The new industrial character of the addition is expressed through a contemporary interpretation of an industrial vernacular as illustrated by the copper-coloured corrugated steel. There are many transparent elements introduced into the formal language of the building, such as apertures to the exterior and access to natural light.
Attention has been given to the exterior of the addition and a careful selection of materials and colors resulted in a building that blends very well with the industrial surroundings. Modular panels with small vertical ridges were used to create depth, and contrast with the lower brick panels of the exterior walls.
Overall, the project demonstrates an effective means of dealing with the context of the site. The choice of materials is well-suited to the expression of its construction in addition to enhancing the appreciation of this type of building in the context of the everyday. The two public faades are also well-adapted to this industrial landscape which has undergone somewhat of a renaissance in recent years.
The project was conceived by the Socit de dveloppement de Montral in an effort to revitalize this traditional industrial zone along the canal. A very tight schedule meant that Architectes Lemay et associes and Les Consultants Gemec inc. worked together to design a structure that could be erected quickly while allowing the flexibility of alterations to the structure as necessary to accommodate the mechanical and processing equipment that was still being designed as the building was being built.
The use of structural steel enabled the “fast track” schedule to be achieved. Also, the structural steel roof was easily reinforced after completion of the structure, to accommodate the mechanical equipment and the resultant pattern and extent of the snow loads. The long spans (up to 16 m) in the roof structure, made practical by the use of structural steel, reduced the number of piles required for the foundation–an important consideration on this site.
Since the owner required a link between the new addition and the existing building across the street, in the future the addition may be a stand-alone building with a different tenant and the street may have to be re-opened. To complicate matters, that area of the site is congested with underground municipal services, which prevented the use of new foundations. The solution was a 15 metre long steel framed “bridge” used at ground level. Glass faades in both walls of the “bridge” made it possible to maintain a visual opening towards the canal and the steel framing that was used as an architectural element. This link can be easily dismantled in the future, if required.
glass faades afford openings onto the canal with steel framing employed as architectural elements.
Agmont America’s Lachine Canal industrial landscape has undergone significant changes in recent years.