ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN
By Anna Guy
The Pavillon de la Jeunesse, Hotel Pur, the Musee des Ursulines and Augustines and many other significant sites : The influence of architecture and design firm Bisson Associes’ can be felt in some of the most high-profile projects in Quebec and abroad.
Based out of Quebec City, Bisson Associes is a team of 21 collaborators out of that eight architects their passion creating meaningful and evocative spaces. Now in its 21st year, Business Elite Canada spoke with Jonathan Bisson, Founding Architect, about the team’s distinctive style and multidisciplinary approach.
“My father and I started this firm in 1997. His vision was for creative design meshed with technical expertise,” says Bisson. “We have three main specialities: architecture, interior design, and museum design, or Museology, but architecture is the glue between everything.”
Bisson’s associates are continually upgrading their education to stay at the forefront of the industry, in particular in Museology. Bisson also likes to give back, teaching others at his alma mater, Laval University’s School of Architecture.
As he once told LeSoleil neswpaper, “It’s very interesting, it keeps us close to the theory. We like both theory and practice and, at a certain point, if we move too far from the theory, we become a little banal and too focused on the technique. By still having a foot in school, it keeps us a little dreamy, “he concludes.
Bisson has been selected for prestigious cultural projects such as the Visitor Education Centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial because of proven technical skills. “We really enjoying working in the museology area because of the technical and conceptual challenges. We like the marriage of those two because it aligns so well our will to work at different scale technically and conceptually,” says Bisson.
Bisson says his team’s founding philosophy is based on “respect, recognition, and importance of each client and their vision. “We work to develop tangible solutions to the challenges that are presented to us,” he says. “Our history is anchored and formed by creation, constraint, responsibilities, art, and functionality. We enjoy finding solutions and creating a constant dialogue with our clients to help them find a line between space and brand, story, and the environment. If you mix all of that together, you have a meaningful approach.”
Clients can see this first-hand from the moment they meet the firm. Headquartered in a former BMW showroom in Quebec City, Bisson Associes redesigned the space into an impressive bastion of light and depth and leaves a wonderful first impression. Clients are greeted with a fluid and open special distribution of light and depth and huge windows that bathe the workshop in natural light. Even the furniture was designed by Bisson Associes.
To see more of the team’s work, one can visit the Pavillon Paul Lafleur student residence at Domaine Forget Music and Dance Academy located in St. Irenee. Bisson says that during the planning and design stages for this 30-room building, special attention was paid to keeping the sweeping views and the surrounding woods, the interior/exterior transition areas which accentuate the building’s relationship with its surroundings. This one was also realized in a design build processus and acheive the level of quality the team value for each of their works.
Located on the edge of the St. Lawrence River, La Malbaie was one of Canada’s first holiday resort towns. The new Laure Conan Library and City Hall in La Malbaie was another exciting project for the firm, as it married the site’s historic landscape and the modern city. The Anse-à-William Discovery and Visitors Centre is yet another example of a space that at the same time showcases the heritage of a natural site of collective memory. “During the execution of this new building, particular attention was paid in order to limit any disturbance and the effects on the immediate surroundings,” says Bisson.
Now in its second decade, Bisson still feels like the firm is starting a new chapter. “Before, we were young. Now we’re in our young twenties,” he laughs. “We are refining our approach, and especially our customer service, which we like to think of as a second-to-none.” Clients are taking notice, often seeking out the firm from the start. “We are very proud to do what we do, and we are honoured by every client.”