A new downtown Montreal destination

A new downtown Montreal destination

Our proposed Avenue des rencontres (avenue of encounters) is based on a vision for public space that is inclusive and respectful of the rich history of the site.

Located at the foot of Mount Royal and steps away from what may well have been the village of Hochelaga, McGill College Avenue is a highly symbolic space. This is why, in our submission to an international design competition, the representation and inclusion of First Peoples are front and centre.

In launching the competition, the City of Montreal called for greening of the downtown artery bordered by office towers, shops and restaurants. It laid out guidelines for historical, heritage, rest and social components, which our team integrated with care. Our concept also gives priority to pedestrians and cyclists, while allowing a safe cohabitation with heavy vehicle traffic passing through this sector every day.

The design is grounded in five distinct moments: the campus, the forest, the hub, the park, the garden and the theatre. United by a formal signature, defined by inclined planes, they are made of public squares, urban rooms and ambiences that echo the unique character of the mountain.

These moments create thresholds to prestigious corporate, retail and university spaces. They showcase biodiverse vegetation that echoes the original native and other defining topography. They promote flow of movement through what is also a multimodal transportation hub. They encourage rest and play, with a focus on wellness and recreation that is particularly relevant post-COVID.

The presence of water and the choice of raw materials, as well as the motifs and choice of plant species, contribute to the notions of meeting and sharing the territory as well as reconciliation between natives and non-natives in an urban setting.

Our multi-faceted concept was one of five finalists in the competition to transform Montreal’s most scenic downtown thoroughfare. It brings to life a sustainable, permeable floor that magnifies the unique character of Mount Royal and reveals the little-known millennial heritage of the Aboriginal peoples who settled there.

From Place Ville-Marie to McGill University, our concept gives rise to a new space, a neutral ground, a place for meeting, rest and reconciliation, which celebrates the past while opening up to the future.