Institut De Tourisme Et D’hotellerie Du Quebec

Architect Lapointe Magne Et Associes Architectes + difica

Location Montreal, Quebec

The Institut de tourisme et d’htellerie du Qubec (ITHQ) is the largest training institution in Canada specializing in tourism, accommodation and food services. Established in 1968 by the Quebec government, the ITHQ has developed an international reputation in offering excellent education and training for the hospitality industry.

Occupying a site on busy rue St-Denis and facing St-Louis Square, the original 1970s Brutalist building was an unfortunate and uninspired concrete-and-curtain-wall Montreal landmark. It packs 21,000 square metres into 11 storeys, with the entry to the Sherbrooke metro station at its base.

As an example of and positive contribution to Montreal’s changing urban fabric, the $39-million renovation to the ITHQ was a cost-effective and sustainable solution premised upon an innovative double-skin application. All four elevations of the tower enjoy variations of the double skin; none are identical. Yet the double-skin faade, in all its variations, captures and preheats the air being brought into the building, thus improving the overall thermal resistance of the project and ensuring natural ventilation year-round with operable windows.

Greater transparency was another objective of the renovation, thematically consistent with the building’s function as a school for hospitality. At night, the arcade space along rue de Rigaud runs adjacent to a wall of glass permitting a warm glow from the lobby, which provides strong visual communication to passersby as to the existence of life within the school. On rue St-Denis, the transparency of the hall with its large oculus, glass balconies, terraces and variety of staircases allows the viewing of internal activities by both visitors and students alike.

Included in the ITHQ’s renovation were new food chemistry and sensory analysis labs, demonstration kitchens, workshops for pastry chefs and chocolatiers, a refrigerated workshop for catering courses, a special sommellerie room, a multimedia documentation centre, and an 80-seat auditorium. The ITHQ is one of the only hotel schools in the world to have its own training hotel with 42 guestrooms.

The building’s facelift achieved through the snazzy double-skin application is further heightened through the assertion of its identity on the St-Denis elevation facing the popular St-Louis Square: incorporated into the fritted glazing, the word “INSTITUT” declares its presence across the entire west faade. The transformation is remarkable not only for the project’s elegant interiors that serve the building’s users well, but for its contribution to the immediate community and to a world-class city undergoing an architectural renaissance.

Adam Caruso: This project has unquestionably improved this part of the city, by transforming a famously ugly building on a prominent site into an appropriate image for an important educational institution. Although the theme of over-cladding is now a familiar one, the way that different scales and materials of cladding are deployed across the faades have an urban intelligence, and give this large building a convincing front faade towards St-Louis Square. The double faade is also working environmentally, with heat from the kitchen exhausts providing a thermal buffer in the winter. The lightness in spirit of the new exterior is carried through into the main interiors, which have a scenographic and almost glamorous quality that is appropriate to a school of tourism and hotels.

Client Ithq/Societe Immobilire Du Quebec

Architect Team Michel Lapointe, Robert Magne, Guy Favreau, Jean-Luc Vadeboncoeur, Sophie Benoit, Louis Laperriere, Stephane Rasselet, Genevieve Crte, Julie Belanger

Structural Les Consultants Geniplus Inc.

Mechanical/Electrical Les Consultants S.M. Inc.

Interiors Lapointe Magne + difica

Restaurant Luc Laporte Et Associes

Project Manager Le Groupe Decarel Inc.

Food Services Bernard & Associes

Elevator Consultants Exim

Area 21,000 M2

Budget $39 M

Completion February 2005

Photography Michel Brunelle and Michel Tremblay