BOUTIQUE MICHEL BRISSON_, MONTREAL
Friday 15 Apr 2011
Michel Brisson_ : a Montréal fashion destination
To transform this seventies era, modern heritage building (formerly a bank) into a new space dedicated to contemporary fashion, the first step taken by the architects was to simplify the overall structure, which had been subjected over the years to a series of additions and renovations.
The building's interior was thus stripped to its original brutalist structure, which revealed itself to be surprisingly striking. The sculpted, corrugated concrete of the vault and mezzanine, the structural supports, and the original exterior brick together became the mineral shell from which the project took shape. The ensemble of the new elements, such as smoked glass, mirrors, and movable display elements (of painted aluminum and rubber) work in counterpoint to the building’s original structure.
The luminous ceiling stretches to fit the form of the mezzanine; the ceiling therefore illuminates the zone of the movable display cases, and contrasts with the clothing racks, which function as linear lighting for the space, suspended from the second floor ceiling like stalactites.
The original curving staircase dramatizes the moment one reaches the second floor, where we find Michel Brisson’s office and the V.I.P. room. Various service spaces are also located on the second floor, toward the south portion of the building. The bank’s windows are pushed close to the street, creating two urban rooms (used for mannequin display) that connect the interior space with Laurier Street, and letting in ample natural light for both the ground and second floors. The expansive surfaces of black glass multiply the space along the store's east-west axis, adding to the overall impression of space and size, and contrasting once more with the feeling given by the original setting.
The main entrance is slightly recessed, framed by a dark, inset glass volume, assuring physical protection for clients from the elements. The concept for the facade of the Michel Brisson_ Boutique is based both on the desire to reveal the modern character of the original building, but also on preserving the urban continuity of Laurier Street West, which is comprised of upscale boutiques, salons, and restaurants.