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A stairway to the Arts

Nick Myall
Thursday 07 Jul 2016

OMA and Provencher_Roy have combined to deliver a striking new pavilion at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in Canada

The new Pierre Lassonde pavilion at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in Canada has opened to the public. Designed by OMA and Provencher_Roy the new building provides Québecers and tourists with a 90% increase in exhibition space, to discover in greater depth the MNBAQ's impressive art collection.

Integrated in an intricate and sensitive environment, the project generated an in-depth reflection about the bond between the Battlefields Park and Québec city, the preservation of the historic Saint-Dominique church, the creation of a persuasive presence on Grande Allée and the harmonious integration of the new pavilion. 

The solution was to stack the required new galleries in three volumes of decreasing size - temporary exhibitions (50m x 50m), the permanent modern and contemporary collections (45m x 35m) and design / Inuit exhibits (42.5m x 25m) - to create a cascade ascending from the park towards the city. The building aims to weave together the city, the park and the museum; it is simultaneously an extension of all three.

Commenting on the project MNBAQ’s Executive Director and Chief Curator, Line Ouellet proclaime said, “The world heritage site of Québec City now has a new landmark. Lucid and ingenious, the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion simultaneously stands out on its site and weaves itself into its surroundings, bringing out the potential of the urban situation with a logic that is as impeccable as it is unexpected.”

The pavilion gradually decreases in height, creating a cascade effect that enables the museum to reach out towards the park at the back while inviting the city in on the front. A 20-metre cantilever announces the main entrance of the Lassonde pavilion. Built using a hybrid steel truss system, it accommodates galleries completely uninterrupted by support columns. The entrance opens out onto an urban plaza that leads to a series of gateways into the galleries, courtyard and auditorium. A monumental spiral staircase of 79 stairs as well as an exterior pop-out staircase of 40 stairs provide spectacular views of the park, the city and the museum. Within the gallery boxes, mezzanines and overlooks link the temporary and permanent exhibition spaces.

With its triple-glazed panels, comprised of a layer of diffuser glass, two layers of fritting and a low-emissivity coating, the building's interior is bathed in light while the façade reflects the surrounding greenery. The fritting's pattern density provides sufficient solar shading to satisfy LEED's mechanical cooling requirements. Thanks to the fritting and diffuser glass, as well as the skylights and carefully curated fenestration, a translucent effect permeates the space, transforming the cultural institution into a natural extension of Battlefields Park.

The new building links to the existing museum complex by a 130.6m long passageway. By virtue of the sheer length and change in elevation, the tunnel creates a series of linked rooms with a dramatic range of spatial and lighting conditions. Each of these serves as a distinct gallery condition, a series of spatially diverse yet visually interconnected volumes that lead the visitor through the complex.

The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec is a museum complex unlike any other in Québec, combining art, architecture and nature. The museum’s extensive collection, a benchmark for Québec art, comprises more than 38,000 works, recounting 400 years of history. It includes one of the most important collections of religious art in Québec, the largest collection of Inuit art in Québec, as well as some 9,000 contemporary works: sculptures, engravings, ceramics, photographs, drawings, videos, installations, and digital and media art. 

Nick Myall

News Editor

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