Located in the heart of Montreal in the Quartier des spectacles cultural district, Place des Arts is home to several cultural institutions and provides a unique, accessible gathering space. Its esplanade is one of the most visited public places in Montreal, hosting many festivals such as the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, les FrancoFolies and Montréal en lumière.
The Esplanade consists in an outdoor terrace made of precast concrete pavers resting on a multi-level underground structure. A waterproofing membrane implemented under the roof-terrace protects interior spaces from water infiltration caused by meteorological conditions. This iconic arts center required critical rehabilitation and repairs to modernize its facilities and extend its use well into the future. The site was built in numerous stages over the course of the last 50 years, creating numerous challenges and complexities from the existing structures. Rehabilitation involved repair of the Esplanade’s rooftop’s waterproofing system, replacement of finished precast concrete surfaces and upgrades to the rainwater management system. A combination of an underground reservoir and an underground exterior retention basin was used for the rainwater system in compliance with municipal sewer capacities.
In addition to critical upgrades and repairs, the public space was reconfigured to better suit its purpose and functions and provide universal access. The project was phased, enabling the Esplanade to remain open during festival season. The large number of interventions to be done in confined spaces required rigorous planning by the design team. Moreover, the Esplanade had to remain functional at all times, therefore structural modifications above parking lots and pedestrian connections for the Metro had to be optimized.