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Governor General’s Medal Winner: Siège Social de la Caisse Desjardins de Lévis

WINNER OF A 2016 GOVERNOR GENERAL’S MEDAL IN ARCHITECTURE

May 19, 2016
by Canadian Architect

A rhythmic façade composed of zinc panels provides filtered light to the office spaces within, while giving the banking headquarters 
a handsome street presence. Landscaping softens the site’s slope to create a welcoming approach for clients.

A rhythmic façade composed of zinc panels provides filtered light to the office spaces within, while giving the banking headquarters 
a handsome street presence. Landscaping softens the site’s slope to create a welcoming approach for clients.

LOCATION Lévis, Quebec
ARCHITECTS ABCP Architecture and Anne Carrier Architecture (architects in consortium)
PHOTOS Stéphane Groleau

This flagship project at the entrance to Cité Desjardins and the City of Lévis adds a symbolic and striking dimension to the heart of the birthplace of Caisse Desjardins. The architectural approach reflects the financial institution’s historical values as well as its modern image.

While asserting its presence at the intersection of two major arteries, the building—in both location and volume—blends with the site’s variable topography and lush greenery. This also carries through into its architectural detailing. On the east-west axis, the vertical movement of the decidedly urban zinc-clad façade reflects the fast-paced user activity and regional scale. Running along Boulevard Alphonse-Desjardins, the main façade faces Old Lévis and steps down to bring us to the city’s human scale.

Meeting rooms pop out along the building’s north side, creating a focal zone for collaboration and circulation.

Meeting rooms pop out along the building’s north side, creating a focal zone for collaboration and circulation.

The circulation areas inside and outside the building are the key elements that frame and reveal the building’s various spaces and functions. The decision to cluster interior circulation against a curtain wall draws natural light into the heart of the structure. Oversized triple-glazed glass was used for the curtain wall, with a minimum of mullions to allow for clear views.

The design incorporates innovative office layout and functional organization strategies. The ground floor features multipurpose areas and a large foyer facing the park, above which modular wooden cubes housing member reception and lounge areas are suspended like tree branches. A new concept in the financial sector, the open workspaces offer common areas accessible to both employees and customers.

The ground floor foyer includes meeting areas for clients, and is enlivened by the activites above.

The ground floor foyer includes meeting areas for clients, and is enlivened by the activites above.

An array of breakout areas along the main corridor are used for collaborative work. Advisors can welcome members at the entrance, walking them through the large foyer, a reflective gathering place that opens out onto the park and the outdoor square. The foyer serves as a multipurpose collective space; the director often uses this area to address his 200-some employees.

Aimed at meeting LEED Silver certification, the project’s sustainable development strategies include tree preservation, geothermal energy and chilled beams, and the use of local materials to create an architectural design that is consistent with the structure’s purpose. However, the comfort and well-being of users were the key drivers of the design and layout choices.

Wood staircases rise alongside the façade

Wood staircases rise alongside the façade.

In sum, the project features innovative architectural composition and spatial organization for the financial sector. The quality of the architectural concept and its technical construction details reflect the architects’ intention to contribute to the sustainability of this living and working environment. On both the urban and human scales, the architectural solution transforms the image of the entrance to the City of Lévis and that of the Desjardins movement.

:: Jury :: This exceptional office building, developed within the discipline of commercial structures designed for financial institutions, breaks new ground in its organization and detailing. Most of the space is designed for large open office layouts, but the designers have clustered the circulation and enclosed spaces along the north face of the building to create a zone of energy and contact. Triple glazing provides acoustic privacy for the meeting spaces while creating a lively and special identity for the façade. The jury applauds the clarity and refinement of this unique building, as well as the clients who supported it.

CLIENT Desjardins Sécurité Financière / Caisse Desjardins de Lévis | ARCHITECT TEAM Anne Carrier architecture—Anne Carrier, Charles Ferland, Patricia Pronovost, Mathieu St-Amant, Martin L’Hébreux, Robert Boily, Raphael Hamelin. ABCP Architecture—Vadim Siegel, Philippe Lafrance-Boucher, Dany Blackburn, Mario Côté, Jacques Bernier, Simon Bérubé. | STRUCTURAL CIMA | MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL BPR | CIVIL CIMA+ | ERGONOMICS Entrac | ACOUSTICS Soft dB | WINDOW GRAPHICS Paquebot Design | CONTRACTOR Construction Dutran Inc. | BUDGET $20 M | COMPLETION November 2013