We have witnessed unprecedented economic vitality over the last few years that has manifested itself in the multiplication of major construction sites throughout the city. The city centre finds itself equipped with several new skyscrapers, transportation infrastructure is in development, and institutional buildings are modernizing. Initially, the idea behind the first Major Projects Forum was to eliminate the perception that new projects are all talk and to reduce the number of projects launched with no progress. Eleven forums later, things have definitely changed for the city.
The 2018 Major Projects Strategic Forum made it possible to promote several key projects, most notably the conversion of the Royal Victoria Hospital, the development of the Olympic Park, and the construction of a hotel and luxury private residences opposite the Maison Ogilvy under the Four Seasons banner. Here are three key things to retain from this twelfth edition.
Griffintown: a sector reshaping Montréal’s image
Several of the projects presented at the Forum, which gathered 550 people at New City Gas, a flagship institution in Griffintown, are located in this area of the Southwest borough. Representatives from the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) came to present the construction project of its fifteen Griffintown pavilions that will form its fifth university campus in Montréal. ÉTS also wants to build two parks on this campus—one in the east and one in the west—that will be accessible to the public. The university, which has seen its student population increase by an average of 15% per year since 1974, wishes to position itself as a driving force in Griffintown.
Groupe Prével’s Laurence Vincent also came to speak about the sector’s condominium market. She addressed the consolidation and transformation of entire neighbourhoods, a phenomenon to which the Lowney sur ville project, now in its eleventh phase, has contributed.
Finally, brothers Étienne and Frédéric Morin-Bordeleau presented their innovative MR-63 project and Station F-MR, a project that will open to the public this summer on the banks of the Lachine Canal. The infrastructure, which will be built around eight Montréal MR-63 metro cars, will contribute to Griffintown’s visual signature and will act as a cultural project incubator in this neighbourhood.
These projects, in combination with the future REM stations that will be established in Griffintown, will help support the continued growth of this district on the Island of Montréal.
Transportation: at the heart of major projects
The vital Réseau express métropolitain (REM) project was a major concern throughout the day’s discussions. Michel Leblanc, CCMM’s President and CEO; Martin Coiteux, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy, Minister of Public Security and Minister responsible for the Montréal region; and Montréal Mayor Valérie Plante spoke at length about this project.
Integrating the REM into the Greater Montréal region’s landscape will transform the city’s image, and CDPQ Infra’s project will help generate construction projects near REM stations. For that matter, the Caisse de dépôt et placementtook advantage of the Forum platform to present the stations’ architectural plan and to explain its urban integration goals.
However, the REM isn’t the only project to catch the interest of real estate promoters. Réseau Sélection founder and president Réal Bouclin came to present District Union, a $950 million multigenerational mega project in Terrebonne. This project was created with the Train de l’Est station in the southern part of the Lanaudière region in mind.
The development of major projects around public transportation, which began with the metro in the 1960s, thus continues nearly 60 years later with the REM.
An eye on architecture
The Forum dedicated an entire section of its programming to architecture and to the importance of developing projects with a distinct visual signature. Four architects—Claude Provencher, Anne Carrier, Anik Shooner and Annie Lebel—participated in a panel on the importance of going beyond the basic construction of buildings in future projects. They all agreed that Montréal needs to be more daring, both in the architecture of projects and in the urban planning around them.
The REM, the 628 Saint-Jacques, the Four Seasons, the MR-63 and the Olympic Park are all projects presented over the course of the day that stand out through their architecture and their distinctiveness. The panellists concluded that as a UNESCO Creative City of Design, Montréal must strive to promote the creative potential of the city.
In the next few years, three things should determine the city’s strategies: taking advantage of the economic momentum, the optimism and the return of confidence in Montréal; redefining Sainte-Catherine Street and other commercial arteries; and structuring development in the downtown area. Montréal is on a roll and its image is changing. It is important to continue this momentum by carrying out innovative projects in the city.