In February 2002, Bernard Landry, Premier of Quebec, announced the construction of an administrative and cultural complex in Montreal. The new complex will provide the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal with a permanent home and. It will include a concert hall that can accommodate an audience of 1800 and a stage that holds 120 musicians and 200 choir singers. The complex will also house the Conservatoire de musique et d'art dramatique de Montréal. Which means the design of classrooms and practice studios, a music hall, a theatre, and practice halls, other educational areas (library, scenery workshops, etc.) as well as spaces for reception and public services. Besides the cultural programme (13.000m2 for the orchestra and 13.000m2 for the school) the new building also has to house government administration (50.000m2). The complex, which has an estimated project cost of Canadian dollars 281M (about 180M euro), will be located in the centre of Montreal, near Place-des-Arts, and in the near surrounding of theatres, a museum and other cultural institutions. The buildings standing on the lot had to be preserved.
For the first stage, 112 proposals from 23 countries were submitted. Five offices were selected for a second stage. For this stage, de Architekten Cie. had to teamed up with a Canadian office for which they chose Ædifica and TPL.
About the winning project the jury president, Mr. Adamczyk mentioned: 'The architectural scheme proposed by the architects Pero Puljiz and Branimir Medic of de Architekten Cie, co-designers of the selected proposal, is characteristic of the great international mainstreams of architecture. Their design clearly and appropriately expresses a fervour of modernism, in regard to the grouping of important cultural and administrative functions. In addition to satisfying the project needs, this innovative proposal is in line with the creative nature of Montreal, a cultural metropolis'.
On first account the building looks like a big almost monolithic square block. However, closer look reveals that the functions are identifiable by incision in the building and that each facade has it's own character reflecting the identity of the street.
With their design, Puljiz and Medic want to create a 'landscape of encounters' a building where cultural, administrative and commercial use is mingled in a different way than usual. By concentrating the programme in one big cube and situating the cube on the north site of the lot, they create an open space, or plaza as the architects call it. This plaza continues in the building. With this new public space they create an open stage for the city and make extra program possible. Music recitals or festivals can be held here.
The main program of the building is divided in two parts. The upper part of the building is used as office space, the lower part for the symphony orchestra and the school of music and drama. The building itself, programmatic, routing and construction is structured around two main voids, which visually connect the cultural and administrative function and bring light to the deep floor space of the complex. Moving trough the void in the glass elevator going up to your office, you will pass and see the musicians of the orchestra and students of the conservatory.