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    Stéphane Brügger

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From the Olympics to offices: Montreal Tower redesigned by Provencher_Roy

Georgina Johnston
19 Mar 2020

Desjardins new office space in Canada

The Montreal Tower, formerly known as the Olympic Tower of Montreal, was unoccupied until 2018 when Desjardins Movement’s moved their offices in. As a result the tower was transformed into an office space, following the design work carried out by Provencher_Roy. 

Desjardins is set to become the first site’s tenant for the next 15 years. Its call and administrative centers occupy seven of the 12 floors of this place, representing 80% of the rental space available. During the work renovations Provencher_Roy replaced the existing prefabricated concrete envelope with a curtain wall for more abundant transparency and fenestration, thereby augmenting the presence of natural light within while respecting the original architecture.

The Montreal Tower had a major makeover to better reflect its new corporate vocation. Designed by the architect Roger Taillibert, the original tower employed prefab concrete panels pierced with vertical strips of windows to provide the zenithal lighting suitable for its initial use. The architecture was originally designed to accommodate sports federations, therefore it had to be readapted to accommodate many of the Desjardins Group teams.

The thousand employees of the financial institution now enjoy those modern workspaces, bathed in natural light. To achieve this result, almost all the Montréal Tower’s mechanical systems had to be renovated to bring them up to code and standards. However, the biggest challenge was undoubtedly the stripping of the tower’s prefabricated concrete panels to make way for the transparency afforded by a glass curtain wall covering 60% of the facade, an essential element in creating a pleasant work environment. In addition to exposing the spectacular structure of the architectural icon, the approach also brings the tower to life and gives it a new energy.

In addition to ensuring a work environment that encourages the exchanges in creativity, the main purpose of the adopted concept was to symbolize the history of the tower. The space offered by the seven floors of this Québec architectural symbol is now enhanced by a design adapted to the organic forms of the stadium, being able to offer all employees a stimulating and cooperative work environment. Several historical references to the first vocation of the stadium are found within the different areas. Among them, the ceiling’s poppy-shaped details in the waiting area reminds us of the old orange roof canvas, as seen before when inside.

Our design strategy has been to showcase the spectacular architectural character of the Montreal Tower, still imbued with the Olympic spirit. Interior design encourages collaboration and sharing of knowledge in a healthy environment, as well as drawing a parallel with the values of Desjardins.

J.P. Laurendeau, Interior Designer, Provencher_Roy

From inside out, the impressive concrete structure was highlighted by the neutral hues of the surfaces. The spacious and bright rooms now have a pale gray floor. The windows are unobstructed to allow the creation of an architectural promenade offering employees a magnificent view of the stadium and the city. Spaces of collaboration and relaxation were also arranged along the imposing glass walls.

The place is articulated as a working tool, with the ultramodern offices incorporating the latest technological equipment in order to attract and meet the needs of employees aged 25 to 35. The lounges, entertainment areas, coffee counters and multifunctional rooms were designed specifically for a young and active clientele. The streamlined and the contemporary styles of its interior design creates for Desjardins employees a strong sense of belonging, transforming the development of a "workplace" into a real "living space". More than a symbolic place that was once dedicated to the Olympic Games, the Montréal Tower is now an indelible mark on the collective imagination. 

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