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Place des Montréalaises

Lemay + Angela Silver + SNC-Lavalin

WINNER OF A 2020 CANADIAN ARCHITECT AWARD OF EXCELLENCE

“This project is healing the city by connecting back over the highway to join two major precincts. It also honours the memory of 21 women who were so important to the evolution of Montreal. It imagines itself throughout the year through a meadow of flowers, trying to take advantage of all of the seasons. It’s beautifully rendered through line drawings.” – Susan Fitzgerald, juror

The plaza uses a sloping plane to connect between the Champ-de-Mars subway and Old Montreal.

The winning entry to an open international design competition launched by the City of Montreal, Place des Montréalaises is a complex blend of architecture and landscape that connects Old Montreal to the city’s downtown. The series of new public spaces, planted areas and art honours 21 Montreal women who have shaped the city, from Ursuline nun and hospital founder Jeanne Mance to Indigenous Radio-Canada producer Myra Cree.

Crossing over the sunken Ville-Marie expressway, an inclined plane negotiates the change in grade between the two precincts. This suspended architectural piece is landscaped as a floating meadow—a bouquet of 21 varieties of plants that will flower in sequence, constantly evolving in memory of the Montréalaises. The meadow’s geometry transforms from a sweeping field to the south to an orthogonal grid to the north, bringing the plaza into dialogue with its surrounding cityscape. A commemorative staircase at the midpoint of the slope invites gathering, and is imprinted with fragments of the names of the 21 women, forming a field of letters that extends the homage to include all women.

TOP A curved surface intersects with the south end of the inclined plane, creating a complex topography of gathering spaces. BOTTOM The plaza hovers over the Ville-Marie expressway off-ramp and roadway, as well as the subway line.

Tree species from Mont Royal are planted at the north end of the slope, creating a forest-like area. The existing Champ-de-Mars metro station sits in a clearing dedicated to enslaved Black woman Marie-Joseph Angélique, who was charged with arson while attempting to flee bondage. To the northeast, an infrastructural pavilion is transformed with a cylindrical envelope made of polished stainless steel, and inscribed with art by spoken poetry pioneer Afua (Ava Pamela) Cooper.

At the south end of the meadow, a curved surface intersects with the inclined plane, creating an expressive topography under the lip of the inclined plane. The area invites urban performances, while openings to the adjacent off-ramp offer glimpses between the city and the Ville-Marie Expressway.

The central area is planted as a floating meadow—an ever-changing bouquet commemorating 21 women who shaped Montreal.

The design also celebrates suffragette Idola Saint-Jean, businesswoman Isa Roth Steinberg, hockey great Agnès Vautier, and Black teacher Jessie Maxwell-Smith, and remembers all 14 victims of the École Polytechnique shooting.

CLIENT Ville de Montréal | ARCHITECT TEAM Lemay—Andrew King (FRAIC, chief design officer), Patricia Lussier (landscape architect, design director), Jeffrey Ma (design lead), Jean-Phillippe Di Marco, Virginie Roy-Mazoyer, Alexis Légaré, Mariya Atanasova, Lucie St-Pierre, François Ménard, Arnaud Villard, Benoît Gaudet, Eric St-Pierre, René Perreault, Jasper Silver King, Theodore Oyama, Jeth Owen Guerrero. Angela Silver— Angela Silver, Hannah Silver King, Jasper Silver King | STRUCTURAL/CIVIL/MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL SNC Lavalin | STRUCTURAL Elema | AREA 19,890 m2 | BUDGET $34 M | CURRENT STAGE Design development | ANTICIPATED COMPLETION 2022

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