Îlot Balmoral, sustainable creative building in Montreal designed by Provencher_Roy


Stéphane Brügger,

Montréal, Canada,

Schools & Universities,

The 13-storey Îlot Balmoral building, designed by the Canadian Provencher_Roy studio is one of the last developmental pieces for completing the Quartier des Spectacles in the centre of Montreal. The spectacular façade architecture aims to obtain the Gold LEED-NC Environmental Certification.

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Îlot Balmoral, sustainable creative building in Montreal designed by Provencher_Roy
Designed by the Canadian architecture firm Provencher_Roy, Îlot Balmoral is a new building adjacent to the Place des Festivals in Montreal, as well as being the new headquarters of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and of the UQAC's École des arts numériques, de l'animation et du design (NAD School). The structure consists of two 13-storey volumes and is characterised by a cut, an almost oblique fault line that houses a full-height atrium and provides the interior spaces with an exceptional brightness. This atrium faces De Bleury Street and opens onto the Place des Festivals, the vibrant heart of the Quartier des Spectacles. A district known for its cultural vocation and the subject of various revitalisation and transformation interventions of the urban fabric that surrounds Place des Arts over the past few years.
What is striking about Îlot Balmoral, an almost perfect cube characterised by its clean and slick appearance, is its glass skin. A choice driven by two aspects as, on the one hand, the smooth and seamless exterior allows the façade to be used as a potential giant screen on which to project the initiatives of the Quartier des Spectacles. Moreover, this enclosure also serves to control the thermal heat gain inside the building, which meets the LEED Gold sustainability goals.
Provencher_Roy oriented the cut according to the existing pedestrian flow, which moves diagonally between the Place des Arts metro station and the Place des Festivals. To delineate the cut, and to make the building's mark on the skyline, a bright red external fold contrasts against the clean glass exterior. As the architects explain, "the colour was chosen as an echo of the cultural branding materials of the Quartier des Spectacles, and serves to distinguish Îlot Balmoral from the functions of more traditional office towers in the district."
The new building, in fact, serves as a new hub of creativity and culture in Montreal, with the National Film Board of Canada as the main tenant of the building, together with various other institutions and companies. But what really convinces about this intervention is the design that embraces the liveliness of the neighbourhood, dialoguing with the urban context through the diagonal cut of the atrium.
As the very heart of the architecture, the atrium develops under the glass ceiling of the building and is characterised by a palette of bright materials with white and light grey walls, concrete floors that reflect and enhance the energy and dynamism of the atrium, combined with additional features including exposed columns and a signature brass deck.
Above the lobby level, the open atrium is framed by brightly lit offices. The two volumes of the building are connected by pedestrian bridges that offer spectacular views of the surrounding cityscape, with a backdrop of Mont Royal, the symbol of Montreal. The roof of the southwestern volume is green and walkable, with stunning views of the city and designed to host outdoor events.
A spectacular architecture for the Entertainment District, where the great visual impact goes hand in hand with a limited environmental impact, as attested by the Gold LEED-NC Environmental Certification.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Provencher_Roy
Location: Montreal, Canada
Year: 2021
Images: Stéphane Brügger


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