Tag Archives: Montréal Métro

The Centre de Commerce Mondiale de Montréal

Our World Trade Centre - work of the author, Winter 2011

This is Montréal’s World Trade Centre, constructed in 1991 as one of the many urban redevelopment projects authorized during the Doré administration to celebrate our 350th anniversary in 1992. This project saw the re-integration of several old buildings facing Victoria Square and running along St-Jacques and St-Antoine. It is an example of a ‘horizontal skyscraper’, and runs from the Square to the Intercontinental Hotel, completed at the Eastern edge of the block in 1994.

Our WTC is not in any way truly comparable to the infamous New York City example, but it provides a fascinating addition to the urban fabric. It is a core component linking the diverse sectors of the Quartier International de Montréal, and thus links the Stock Exchange, ICAO, IATA, the Montreal Board of Trade, the CDP, the Palais des Congres and several hotels into a coherent narrative. It has also assisted in the rapid transformation of the Old Quarter which precipitated a drastic re-integration of several diverse sectors into a better-flowing urban centre. Best of all, with new condo and hotel projects already underway nearby, there is little doubt new office towers won’t be far behind, and one could only hope the city is doing all it can to draw more international organizations to our city, and foster the city’s role in global affairs. What we have in this sector is a high concentration of potential, but it always seems oddly inert when I pass through this part of the Underground. That being said, having shown this little slice of Montréal to several friends over the years, I can’t help but think the experience of this place alone would be enough to encourage large international organizations to make Montréal their home. It’s a truly captivating place.

The reflecting pool and statue of Aphitrite, by Dieudonné Guibal, CCMM - work of the author, Winter 2011
Another view of the reflecting pool; notice the backs of various old office buildings have been integrated into the complex so as to give the impression of apartment balconies. Consider as well the canopy covering the length of the former Ruelle des Fortifications
Our own little slice of the Berlin Wall - one of many gifts the City of Montréal has on display from other countries and cities - work of the author, Winter 2011

The STM is planning on selling you out…

Hector Guimard's Métro entrance at Square Victoria - credit to Wally Gobetz for the great shot

The STM recently announced its intention to solicit corporate sponsorship for the Métro, something which has never been done before. This is not the same as posting advertisements; the new plan seeks sponsorship of the individual lines, with branding occurring pretty much everywhere, from the ubiquitous, landmark Métro signs to the ticket kiosks to the maps, branding, branding, branding everywhere.

Andy Riga has excellent coverage of this issue, which can be found here: Metropolitan News

I think Michael Fish really nailed it when he asks if the corporatist elements of our society have any shame left. No, clearly they don’t – the STM won’t make more than $155 million over ten years. When you compare that to the billions of dollars per year in the operations budget, you begin to get that queasy feeling the corporate branding will be going to line the pockets of city administrators and STM corporate governance. It certainly won’t speed up the deployment of our new trains, that much is certain.

As you can imagine, both Projet Montréal and Transport2000 have come out against this plan. I for one am also against it – our Métro was conceived as being sponsorship-free, or if you’d prefer, people-power is the sponsorship. Frankly it’s bad enough we have to contend with television, advertisements, scrolling-advertisements and the variety of people actually handing things over to you, do we really need to ‘ride the Bell line to switch at Monsanto Station?’ Moreover, do we really want the pride of Montréal’s public-transit network sponsored by, say, General Motors Corporation?

Enough is enough Рif the STM really wants to increase overall revenue, they should stick with the original plan, that is Рto gradually extend the M̩tro to cover the entire metropolitan region. Doing so would allow the STM to collect revenue from more than 3 million people, as opposed to half that number currently.

The system was designed to put art and architecture to the forefront, but gradually, we’ve let the STM remove artwork and alter the design of the stations without adequately consulting the artistic community which designed the stations in the first place. Initially the system was designed to act as a new kind of public art gallery, in which each station could be experienced for its own artistic merit. What happened to that?

Think about the lost artwork the next time you’re in McGill Métro station, where the stained glass mural has big gaping holes which never get fixed, yet the rest of the station can be covered in advertisements overnight.

I strongly encourage my fellow Montréalers to resist this invasion and manipulation of public space. I for one will deface any corporate sponsorship I see. Let’s see how much of that $15.5 million per annum they can save when they have to contend with rider dis-satisfaction and a population hell-bent on vandalizing corporate sponsorship.