Cultural Center Notre-Dame-de-Grâce

Project Data

Architects in consortium : Atelier Big City, Fichten Soiferman et Associés, L'OEUF
Client : Côte-des-Neiges - Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, City of Montreal
Structural : Groupe EGP
Mechanical/electrical : Pageau Morel et Associés
Landscape : NIP Paysage
Civil : Vinci Consultants
Graphics : Atelier Pastille Rose
Lighting : CS Design
Acoustics : Sonar Consultants
Accessibility : Société Logique
Ergonomics : Patrick Vincent
Daylighting : Andrew Hruby
LEED : Synairgis
LEED Commissioning : EXP
Project Managers : Monique Coté, Myrith Yassa
Area : 4500 sq. m.
Projected completion : Spring 2014


The new Cultural Centre for Notre-Dame de Grace is in a residential neighbourhood on a block dominated by a WW2 veterans housing complex called Benny Farm. The project is the winning scheme from a competition that took place in August of 2010, and will start construction in 2013.

The ‘L’-shaped building frames a landscaped garden court, providing a gracious public amenity that welcomes you to the secondary entrance to the center. This courtyard balances hard surfaces for cars, bicycles, special events and functions, and a large parterre under the existing maple, which can serve for outdoor performances in summer. The cultural center is structured around an entrance court and main public lobby. The north-south wing houses the multi-purpose hall and its service zone to the east, while the east-west wing houses the library. The project offers practical spaces for the public to use. The entrance court has sheltered space for seating and meeting, coffee, reading, chess – all protected from rain. The second entrance to the cultural center, the garden court integrates parking with public amenity, creating spaces for bikes, special events, and outdoor seating for educational programs or theatre under the stars.

The library is one continuous space, a great public room articulated locally to serve a variety of functions and users. This continuity is emphasized by clear relationships between the circulation desk, the light court, and the spaces dedicated to the distinct user groups, subtly uniting them all with the public ground. Children descend gently to a light-filled library open on three sides, planned around a salle d’animation. Ados climb a dynamic ramp to a more private realm, a platform overlooking the library’s entrance court. Adults climb the grand stair to inhabit a continuous floor, with quiet reading areas on the garden court and internal connections to both the Ados and Children’s libraries. Ados and kids are connected through the adults reading areas, each aspiring to discover and grow into the other spaces in the library.The spatial organization strives to create the sense of ‘one’ space, by establishing a formally powerful connection between the library desk and entrance, to the main library floor subtly ‘attaching’ the upper level to the ground by an inhabitable stair. The kids are focused around the activity room, and profit from a vast space open to the exterior on three sides. The kids will discover the world here, and overtime aspire to other spaces in the library. One such opportunity is proposed in the childrens small story telling theatre, a ramped stair, which permits the kids and the adults sections of the library to connect. Here, parents may come down to see how the little ones are doing, or over time perhaps, the young will want to venture up into the adults world above…

Each of the sections inter-relates with the main library desk, each of the areas is connected to the others, so that overtime, the users will naturally migrate, change habits, change interests, and discover the varying atmospheres and views the building has to offer. The building is ‘enveloped’ by a brick and steel curtain, controlling light and extending the threshold between inside and outside. This curtain-like exterior abstracts traditional systems of enclosure while maintaining infinite views and relationships to the neighbourhood. Community, comfort, flexibility, economy and innovation organize the sustainability agenda. Understanding the limited means of the present, the cultural center looks to the future and proposes a building that will become deeper green with time and will educate and engage the community. The building should start with LEED Silver certification. As well, the landscape thematically explores the Benny Farm legacy, establishing a publicly accessible agriculture, fruit and nut trees, berry bushes and their like, scattered around and cradling the building and its courtyards.