Page D1.2 . 09 July 2003                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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New Urbanity in Montréal

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Birth of the CDP Capital Centre

The Quartier International is the location of a new building, "The CDP Capital Centre," designed by a consortium of architects of Gauthier, Daoust Lestage Inc., Faucher Aubertin Brodeur Gauthier, and Architectes Lemay et Associés.

The building is home to CDP Capital (Caisse de Dépôt et du Placement du Québec), one of the world's 's leading fund managers. The new building is intended to fuel the company's performance and growth. The 600,000-square-foot (56,000-square-meter) center brings together all of CDP's Montréal-area personnel — in real estate, private equity, investment, and advisory subsidiaries.

The building contributes to the public realm in several ways. The adjacent Victoria Square is being restored to its original rectangular configuration and refurbished with fountains, trees, and a pedestrian path. A new public square, Jean-Paul Riopelle, sits between the Palais des Congrés and the CDP Capital Centre.

This square will be an almost forest-like urban green space surrounded by natural stone surfaces, the work of artist Jean-Paul Riopelle "La Joute." Its dramatic lighting will give it a decidedly contemporary look. The two squares are scheduled for completion in October 2003. They will be tied together by a walkway through the CDP Capital Centre.

Tying It All Together

While contributing to the redevelopment of Montréal's Quartier International, the CDP Capital Centre also needed to integrate smoothly with existing buildings, such as the 1950s Bank of Canada, the 1913 Montréal Herald Building, and the MECO, a prime example of art deco architecture.

The CDP was charged with creating an underground link between the Square Victoria and Place d'Armes metro stations and also between the Palais des Congrès and the major downtown hotels. At the same time, it needed to accommodate 1,200 underground parking spaces.

The architects wanted to satisfy human needs and expectations within a flexible, daylit, sustainable, and, comfortable space. They describe the building as a "horizontal skyscraper," with public and private spaces that open to the central "Parquet," a pedestrian route through the building. Materials were selected with the intention of making the building's interior as bright and open as possible.

To integrate the CDP with its direct context, it was formed into a protective ell around three existing buildings. From inside the CDP, the three appear like dramatic players on a stage. The roof of the MECO building was made into a kindergarten playground, so CDP employees can observe their children at play.

Renée Daoust, the building's chief architect explains: "... All together; the purpose of the building, the challenges, the client goals, and the context, gave birth to a building where the unity of space, the diversity of forms, the abundance of light, the human presence, the communication, and the technology have been respected in harmony, subtlety, serenity, and precision... our goal was to create an intelligent, innovative and friendly building."

The Spine and its Ribs

The "Parquet" is the center's backbone, a multistory glass-walled atrium that horizontally connects the two city blocks between which the automotive traffic of Saint Alexandre Street still flows.

The Parquet is an immense gathering place and an informal relaxation area close to key employee services such as restaurants, employee lounges, the smoking lounge, and a multipurpose room. The Parquet opens up onto outdoor terraces and ensures optimal access to daylight. It also serves as a symbolic "window on the world" for CDP.

The 6000-square-foot (560-square-meter) "Trading Pod" is a prominent symbol of CDP`s bustling market operations. It juts out nearly 65 feet (20 meters) over the Parquet at the sixth and seventh floors. The effect is that of an immense transparent cube virtually floating in space.

To foster communication at all levels, many formal and informal meeting rooms are located throughout the building. The multipurpose room on the Parquet level accommodates 80 people in a lecture-style setting but will also be available for seminars, cocktail receptions, and other functions. As part of the overall approach geared toward technological innovation, some of the meeting rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art multimedia equipment.   >>>

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The west elevation of the CDP Capital Centre in Montréal.
Photo: Zeina Najjar

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South and east elevations.
Photo: Zeina Najjar

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The "Parquet" is the heart and spine of the building. The "trading pod," floating overhead, houses 50 trading workstations.
Photo: Zeina Najjar

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Transparency, abundance of light, human relationships, and the quality of space are values expressed in the offices overlooking the Parquet.
Photo: Zeina Najjar

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Movable office partitions make the relocation of workstations an easy task.
Photo: Zeina Najjar

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Looking down into the Parquet, which is 400 feet (122 meters) long and 140 feet (43 meters) high.
Photo: Zeina Najjar

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Elegant materials were used in the interior of the 11th floor boardroom.
Photo: Zeina Najjar

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Modular furniture can be combined in various configurations to create rest and waiting areas.
Photo: Zeina Najjar

 

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