August 05, 2012

Ma Visite à Montréal

Long time no blog entry - sorry about that. I just returned home from spending my week in one of Canada's major cities - the beautiful and vibrant, Montréal! I finally get to see the city that I was researching into during my second year architectural history course. I was looking into I.M. Pei`s Place Ville Marie and had to contextualize it`s time and place in the development of the city. Additionally, the 60s-70s is my favourite time period to look into Canada`s history. Throughout the 20th century Montréal was in constant competition with Toronto in terms of population and economic growth. I remember from my history and theory classes in architecture school how significant  Montréal was. During the 20th century Canada was modernizing and was getting ready to commemorate it's centennial of confederation.  Montréal sets the stage for this transformation and and coming of age by hosting Expo 67 and the 1976 Olympic Games. Canada wanted to be unique and modern and open itself to the world. I'd like to think of this as the glory days Canada since it is a pivotal moment in the growth and development of this city, our country, and thus our architectural heritage. It was a time of looking to the future and it's potential, a time of innovation, a time to be proud of being Canadian. 

It was those days that have left a lasting mark on the city, with it's highly designed subway systems with  modern flair, and downtown buildings that indicate the building booms of the city, particularly during the Modern, Post Modern era. My friend Dave showed me around downtown Montreal and pointed out the significant buildings in the downtown core. Today the remnants of the Expo 67 site (Île Notre Dame and Île Saint Helene) is now Parc Jean Drapeau being marked by Buckminster Fuller's Biodome and the famous Habitat 67 on Cite du Havre by Moshe Safdie can be seen from the city's old port. (Note - You have to drive to Habitat 67 and park at Parc Cite Du Havre to visit...walking/commute+walking for half an hour or longer will be a mission without a can opt to see the building from the old port).  

The Biosphere by Buckminster Fuller

Habitat 67 by Moshe Safdie

Place Ville Marie by I.M. Pei
It was not just the modern buildings that I was interested in. Walk around Old  Montréal to get a glimpse of the historical buildings of the city.  Montréal has been more established than Toronto. Some of the cool places to check out include Basilique de Notre Dame, taking a walk along the old streets (which reminded me of Toronto's Distillery District...much more bigger, better, and no red brick).

Today Montreal is still growing and it's downtown is still vibrant as ever with it's street festivals, shopping and business districts and destinations. Definitely is a city to visit when you get the chance. There are alot of new architectural places that you need to check out like the Grande Bibliotheque by Patkau Architects, the recently renovated Palais des Congres de Montreal (Montreal Convention Center) along many others.

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