Architectural/Culture (Old and New), Montreal
Favorite thing: This area of Montreal was known as the Golden Square Mile, for its remarkable concentration of wealth and power, mostly Anglophone. This hall, now part of McGill University, is representative. It was orignally built in 1907 as a private residence for Sir Mortimer Davis (1866-1928), Montreal born businessman, known as "The Tobacco King". (Davis in 1916 was the first Jewish individual to receive a knighthood for services to the Empire.) The Beaux-Arts mansion was designed by Scottish born architect Robert Findlay (1859-1951). It is now the home of the McGill University Department of Epidemiology‚ Biostatistics and Occupational Health.
Favorite thing: The Redpath Museum is the oldest structure in Canada constructed for the purpose of being a museum. It's the Natural History Museum on the campus of McGill University, build in 1882 to a "Greek Revival" design of A.C. Hutchison (1838-1922) and A.D. Steele, prominent Montreal architects in the late 1800s.
Favorite thing: The Arts Building is the oldest surviving building on the McGil University campus. Originally it was constructed in 1839-40, and was designed by John Ostell (1813-1892), prominent Montreal architect also responsible for the plan of the Grande Seminaire down the street. I like the simple Georgian neo-classicism. It can imagine a horse and carriage driving up to the portico. A National Historic Site of Canada.
Favorite thing: James McGill (1744-1813) was the founder of the university which bears his name 180 years afters its creation. The inscription reads "Fur trader, merchant, magistrate, Colonel of the Militia, Defender of Montreal, Member of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Councillor of Lower Canada, Citzen of Montreal and Founder of McGill University." This bronze is the work of noted British artist David Curzon-Roper (b. 1965), and it was unveiled in 1996 on the occasion of 175th anniversary of the university's official charter (which came from King George IV).
Favorite thing: This central Montreal memorial, located in Dorchester Square, is really a very clever piece of public art. It emphasizes the central role of Laurier in bringing about reconciliation between Anglophone and Francophone Canada. I've read that it is significant that the sculpture faces south, because Laurier was an early proponent of a free-trade agreement with the United States - a policy which would undercut Canada's long-standing economic ties to Great Britain. There's also significance in the coming together of the wheat of the prairies and the maple leaves of the forests. The sculpture was the work of Joseph-Emile Brunet (1893-1977), whose work can also be seen in Ottawa.
Favorite thing: Place dYouville is the home of the striking old Hospital of the Sisters of Charity, associated with Montreal pioneer Marguerite d'Youville - their organization popularly known as the Grey Nuns. This is 18th century construction, much renovated but still preserving its traditional facade. A National Historic Site of Canada.
Favorite thing: Interesting "Flamboyant Dutch" style building, originally constructed as a Fire Station, now housing the fascinating Montreal History Center. Architects Joseph Perrault and Simon Lesage. The building dates from 1903.
Favorite thing: Now the Hotel St. Paul, a renovated boutique hotel in Old Montreal, on Rue McGill close to the area known as Multimedia City. This is a vibrant urban neighborhood for the 21st century. The structure was originally constructed as offices for the Grand Trunk Railway Co. It was designed by the architect Alexander Cowper Hutchison, who also designed the beautiful Erskine and American United Church, now part of the Musee des Beaux-Arts.
Favorite thing: Dawson College is an English language institution in Montreal's Westmount neighborhood. After several earlier locations, the college has settled into the impressive buildings that once housed the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, a Roman Catholic priory. The institution occupies a full block between Sherbrooke Street and de Maisonneauve Boulevard. The main builidng, with an impressive dome atop a former chapel, was originally constructed in the first decade of the 20th century. Its architect was Jean-Omer Marchand (1873-1936), Quebec born but professionally educated at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Favorite thing: A detail from the Grand Seminary of Montreal, a 19th century edifice asociated with the Sulpician Order and is now part of the Roman Catholic College de Montréal, a high school run by the Jesuit Order. This staunchly Francophone institution was designed by a London-born and Anglican architect, John Ostell (1813-1892), and as such is a fitting symbol for its city. Ostell emigrated to Quebec in 1834 and married into the French elite of the city. He became city surveyor, and later provincial surveyor for all of Lower Canada.
Favorite thing: (aka Tour de la Bourse). At 48 floors and 636 feet (194 meters), it is the third tallest skyscraper in Montreal. It was designed by Italian modernist Luigi Moretti (1907-1973), who was also the architect for the Watergate complex in Washington D.C. Completed in 1964, it was the site of a terror bombing by radical Quebec nationalists in 1969. No one was killed, but 27 people were injured in the attack. Interestingly, originally there were plans for two idenitical towers to be constructed adjacent to the Stock Exchange tower. but those plans never came to fruition
Favorite thing: 47 story office tower, an archteypal example of the "international style". Half a century old! (It really has become a classic, IMHO.) The structure dates from 1962, when it was constructed to be the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Canada. (The HQ of RBC left Montreal for Toronto in 1976, but their regional offices are still here.) It was designed in the shape of a cross by that clever fellow I.M. Pei (in association with Henry Cobb.) (Crosses have a great significance in the history of Montreal.) Pei also designed the extensive underground plaza as well.
Favorite thing: 47 story office tower (1992) designed by the firm of Kohn, Pedersen & Fox. This Montreal landmark is actually quite similar to a Kohn Pedersen & Fox office tower in Frankfurt. (The picture was taken from one of the conference rooms on the 36th floor of the Marriott Chateau Champlain.)
Favorite thing: I attended a conference here in November 2012. The Canadian Pacific Railroad built this to coincide with the 1967 Exposition in Montreal, which marked the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. It was the first tall buildng in the city to be designed by a Francophone Quebeçois, Roger D'Astous (1926-1998). (D'Astous had studied with Frank Lloyd Wright in Arizona,) When I took a cab into downtown from the airport, the taxi driver referred to this as the "cheese grater" tower.
This was something that caught my eye whilst wandering around the Old Port and the pic duly taken without knowing what it was.
I had assumed at the time that it was a very modern apartment building and upon doing some research afterwards was surprised to find that, whilst it is an apartment building, it actually dates back to 1967. This is Habitat67 and was designed and built for Expo 67, housing being one of the main themes of the exhibition.
The architect responsible is the Isreali born Moshe Safdie who studied at McGill University. Habitat67 was in fact his Master's thesis piece which was selected in a competition for construction for the Expo. Safdie has since become one of North America's best know architects and his other Canadian masterpieces include Ottawa'a former City Hall and National Gallery.
The building was certainly ahead of its time with the 60's being better know for many failed residential experiments. Here the concept was to provide (in Safdie's own words) "a fragment of paradise to everyone". The building is constructed of 354 cubes to form 158 residences, stacked so that no two residences has adjoining walls and that each has its own private garden/balcony and views. The residences are made up of varying numbers of building blocks and provide accommodation for singles, couples and families.
It was initially intended as high-density, affordable housing, but the planned development of 900 units was scaled back to the 158 completed due to prohibitive construction costs. Also because of the cachet of the architecture and its riverside location the homes are no longer "affordable" in the sense that the architect intended.
It is however a fascinating structure and made for an interesting little research project.
see www.habitat67.com and www.greatbuildings.com for more info.