Passing: Remembering Quebec’s Georges E. Lemay

Georges E. Lemay, founder of Montreal-based architecture, planning and design firm Lemay, passed away on September 30, 2017, at the age of 88. He leaves to mourn his son Louis T. Lemay, current president of the firm, his daughters Ève and Brigitte and their families, and many friends and partners. Those who knew him remember a steadfast visionary, determined to advance the architectural profession. Through his projects, he intended for Quebec’s identity to flourish and nurtured the integration of art and architecture, a notion of transdisciplinary collaboration and democratization of art that guides the firm to this day.

“My father made an impression on his collaborators with his generosity and his absolute dedication to his craft, as much as his extraordinary influence on cityscapes across the province,” said Louis T. Lemay.

Georges E. Lemay
Georges E. Lemay

Georges E. Lemay cofounded, with Claude Leclerc, the architectural practice of Lemay Leclerc Architectes in 1957. The firm had first made a name for itself in Montreal, with the Church of Saint-Jean Baptiste de la Salle, the De l’Église Metro station. Photo courtesy of Lemay, Cégep André-Laurendeau and various banks and credit unions. These functionalist projects pushed the boundaries of concrete and made institutional architecture accessible to everyone – reflecting Quebec’s newfound openness to the world.

Chuch of Saint Jean Baptiste de la Salle, Lemay
Chuch of Saint Jean Baptiste de la Salle. Photo by Alexandre Guilbeault

Following several incarnations in its first decades, the architectural firm grew steadily in stature and breadth until the turn of the 21st century, when it began taking on large-scale, cityscape-defining projects such as 1000 de la Gauchetière, the Bell Centre, and internationally, the Martyrs’ Memorial community centre in Algiers, Algeria.

De l’Église Metro station. Photo courtesy of Lemay
De l’Église Metro station. Photo courtesy of Lemay

Louis T. Lemay recalled that “my father’s greatest wish was to develop modern architecture, to make it evolve and ensure its sustainability. There is no doubt he succeeded in that.”

The passing of Georges E. Lemay coincides with the 60th anniversary of the firm he founded, which launched celebrations of his legacy in recent weeks.