North-South Axes in Montréal – Perspective on the City { No.9 }

The Plaza at Place Ville-Marie - work of the author, Summer 2010

The plaza at Place Ville-Marie was most recently renovated in 2005, which resulted in its current configuration with significant new green space, flora, planters and glass skylight/entrances over the staircases leading o the shopping concourse below. Back in 1968, this space was the site chosen by Pierre Trudeau to hold a major election rally. As it was far more open-concept back then:

Pierre Trudeau's 1968 election rally at PVM - not the work of the author
Construction on St-Urbain, Summer 2009

Looking down St-Urbain with the ubiquitous summertime construction going on. I suppose the new concert hall is going up immediately to the right of this shot. Anyone know if the entrance will face St-Urbain or will it face inwards to the plaza at Place des Arts? Any chance there will be both?

I’ve always felt this stretch of St-Urbain is without much character, or at least there’s not much unifying the streetscape. It’s unfortunate that it serves as a continuous ‘loading dock’ for several blocks. Still, pretty to see the Aldred Building, rising steadily like a self-conscious fountain – never ostentatious as its almost invisible from ground level, muted in context when seen from a distance.

The view of the city from McGill Street, looking North towards Square Victoria

I love the view from this spot; so much character and bold vitality. Since the renovation and opening of Square Victoria circa 2002-2003, this area has become more ordered, though curiously this order provides better vistas along McGill, Beaver Hall Hill and within Square Victoria. Not to mention the covering of the open trench along Viger helped mend a terrible tear on the urban fabric. Now, this axis connects the uptown corporate and retail hub with the International Quarter downtown. Make no mistake, this is the link which will allow for continued development of the Faubourg des Recollets/ Griffintown region of the CBD, along with the Duke Street developments on the other side of the Bonaventure Expressway. Is it possible that the Montréal of the future will have two pronounced southern-reaching ‘arms’ of office towers and condos, tapering down along McGill while tapering up along Duke?

A key component to successful redevelopment of this area will be the introduction of more ‘street-level’ services and some low-density housing. Moreover, it could certainly use public services, such as schools, community centers, theaters, libraries etc. No city is built uniquely of condos, lest we wish to look like Toronto.

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