Montreal, Canada, 2012-02-08 -
Les Architectes FABG is the winning firm in the architecture competitions for the project to set up a new cultural venue, including a professional theatre, which will be built starting in September, a few metres away from the St. Lawrence River in the Verdun Borough. The project also provides for redevelopment and expansion of Verdun's circus school (École de cirque de Verdun).
Selected among four finalists, the winning team of architects has been selected by the jury by providing a project distinguished by the quality of atmospheres, the development of the nearby river and the views of the surrounding landscape and functionality of all. The jury emphasized the artistic signature of the projects submitted in the competition.
"We organized architecture competitions in order to develop a project meeting the challenge of converting the former Aréna Guy-Gagnon into a high-quality artistic venue that helps bridge the gap between the audience and the performers," explained Verdun Borough Mayor Claude Trudel, in congratulating the winning firm of architects.
"We were concerned about making a connection between the building and the river as well as the park in which the building is located. This project is meant to be a sign of distinctiveness, yet integration, boldness and exemplariness, from an environmental standpoint," explained Éric Gauthier, a partner in the firm Les Architectes FABG.
On the whole, the project aims at creating a hub for performing arts and circus arts in Verdun. The former arena (located at 5190, boulevard LaSalle) will be redeveloped and slightly expanded in order to better accommodate the existing Studios B and A:
• A cultural venue will be set up in Studio B. The new, expanded facilities will be more than a traditional theatre: they will be used as a venue for creation, production and promotion for various cultural organizations in the arts field. These facilities will include a mediation room, allowing for synergy between the performers and the audience before the shows, as well as an exhibition hall and areas for the performers' living quarters.
• At the present time, École de cirque de Verdun is located in Studio A, which is to be redeveloped and expanded.
"We want to make Verdun a real cultural hub which—in addition to this cultural venue project—also includes La Station, recognized as a historical monument, which has been restored and converted into an intergenerational centre, inaugurated last week in the L’Île-des-Soeurs neighbourhood, and Maison Nivard-De Saint-Dizier, a museum and archaeological site located on boulevard LaSalle," pointed out Mayor Trudel.
"The materialization of this project to set up this new cultural venue is a fine example of the efforts invested by Montréal's Administration, which aims at positioning culture at the very heart of the development of our metropolis. In fact, Ville de Montréal recently adopted a resolution making culture one of the four pillars of sustainable development—a dynamic force that is making our city a major cultural metropolis. This new cultural venue is consolidating our cultural network and is thereby tangibly embodying the objectives of Réseau Accès culture's 2010-2014 Action Plan. Moreover, the outstanding architecture that will define this new performing arts hub is bringing to light the importance we attach to design—a strategic force not only for the development and recognition of our city, but also a key to improving our residents living environment," added Helen Fotopulos, responsible for culture, heritage, design and the status of women on Ville de Montréal's Executive Committee.
Capacity of theatre and cost
Starting in the fall of 2013, the theatre will be able to offer between 368 and 444 fixed and retractable seats, depending on the type of show that will be presented there. The theatre will operate in association with the circus arts hub of la Cité du cirque la Tohu in order to attract appropriate shows.
The cost of the cultural venue project amounts to $16.3 million—$12.4 million for the cultural venue in Studio B for demolition, construction, landscaping, parking, equipment, the work of art and $3.9 million for the redevelopment of Studio A. École de cirque de Verdun is awaiting the completion of financial arrangements to begin redeveloping Studio A.
Ville de Montréal is offering a financial contribution of $7.9 million toward this project supported by the Forum des équipements culturels de Montréal. As it may be recalled, this cultural facilities forum—whose partners are Ville de Montréal and Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine—comes within the scope of the agreement on Montréal's cultural development (Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal).
At the present time, Verdun has no professional auditorium, but does have six locations that are being used for such purposes and where 73 professional lively arts performances were presented in 2011, before 19,483 spectators. Mayor Trudel made a point of emphasizing the commendable work of the members of both the panel of judges in the architecture competitions and the technical committee in analysing the projects.
In addition to Les Architectes FABG, the finalists in the architecture competitions were: Saucier + Perrotte, Architectes, Dan S. Hanganu Architectes and Manon Asselin, Architectes et Jodoin Lamarre Pratte, Architectes en consortium.
Over the coming months, Les Architectes FABG will be designing the plans and specifications for the project. It will also be responsible for site supervision.
The projects carried out by Les Architectes FABG include Théâtre de Quat’Sous (2009), expansion of the headquarters of Cirque du Soleil, Centre communautaire de Pierrefonds as well as the auditorium and sports centre at Collège de l’Assomption and École Nationale de l’Humour. This architecture firm has won a number of prestigious awards for its projects, including an award for excellence from the Ordre des architectes du Québec, the jury prize for innovation and potential promotion of Théâtre de Quat’Sous' international reputation as well as other awards for excellence, including those from the Ordre des architectes du Québec for 115 Cirque du Soleil studios, for relocating École Nationale de l’Humour and for Maison de la culture Maisonneuve.