Plans for a new signature cultural destination for Montreal’s downtown
This master plan embodies the collective vision of the district’s stakeholders, landowners and occupants. Believing that culture can be a driving force for large-scale real-estate development, the project’s main focus is to create a major international tourist destination. This downtown sector is currently home to 30 cultural venues and is the site for several large-scale outdoor events such as the Montreal International Jazz and Just for Laughs festivals. Therefore, the approximately 60-acre plan aims to provide more suitable exterior space for events as well as high quality urban plazas for city dwellers.
The perimeter of the District is to be defined by a symbolic 'Hedge' or 'Wall' defined by lighting, tree alignments and bold changes in street textures. This device is a clever reference to the layout of medieval fortified towns – in this case inverting the historical model in which fair-like events are usually outside of the fortifications (as opposed to inside). Along this 'ring fence', seven main 'Porticos' are themed according to the entertainment arts, namely: music, film, theatre, humour, dance, circus and visual arts. Inside the ring, eight major urban pockets are arranged in a string of pearls configuration around the central Place-des-Arts (PDA) block. These urban spaces, also functioning year-round as plazas, define the footprint of events and acoustically and visually isolate each space from adjacent sectors, allowing for simultaneous events.
Crisscrossing the middle in east-west fashion is famous St. Catherine Street, the District’s centre of gravity, which leads to the 'Red Light', a lantern suspended above the corner of St. Laurent Boulevard and St. Catherine Street, boldly marking Montreal’s historic intersection in the heart of the Entertainment District. On this corner, a 30-storey observation tower will be built, representing the 30 cultural venues of the Entertainment District; it is to act as a beacon attracting tourists from downtown, Old-Montreal and the Old-Port.