June 2, 2007

Montreal (Canada)- Architecture

The Grande Bibliotheque by Patkau Architects was a breath of fresh air. Clad in sleek green-tinted glass channels, the library greets visitors with a large, four-story open foyer space. The main library spaces within peer-out into the foyer through openings in screens made of maple-veneered horizontal wood slats. Circulation of the library is clear and intuitive, anchored by a central atrium occupied with glass elevators and 'floating' stairs hung from the ceiling. The main stacks of the library are located centrally around three sides of the open atrium. High-ceiling spaces for seating, circulation, and tiered study-desks are grouped around the perimeter.

Patkau articulates transitions smoothly. For example, instead of stopping the glass guardrail panels at the code-minimum required distance from the floor plane as is common practice, they carried them several inches below the floor plate (see photo) giving a more integrated and cleaner solution (fewer connections / material changes). They were also careful to hold all materials a few inches back from each-other, such as the ceiling soffits from surrounding beams, avoiding the near-impossible feat of flush material transitions.

One fundamental flaw with the project is the attachment design of the exterior green glass channels mentioned earlier. At the ground level, a temporary gate has been erected around the entire exterior perimeter of the building a few feet from the facade. This is because some of the channels have been coming off the building and crashing onto the concrete below during severe wind storms and from dramatic temperature changes. The channels appear to be secured in place with some steel angles and gaskets. No through-connections that we could see.

In addition to the library we visited the off-beat post-modern archaeology museum (great views above from the "Belvedere"), a sleek unknown institutional building on St. Denis, and a convention center downtown that scored well in terms of use of color and lighting schemes. The visit overall felt a little light in terms of architecture, but that's only because there were so many good shows to catch!


  1. best of the best>>>plastikman to patkau>>>

  2. Ahhh... Montreal. Looks beautiful as always - especially appreciated how you posted the 'Architectural Aspect' of the city separately from Mutek.


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