Cultural Icon to Take New Residence
By Anna Guy
The new Maison de Radio Canada in Montreal will make a positive impact in the cultural—and neighbourhood—landscape.
As Canada’s national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions, CBC/Radio-Canada is a beacon of news, entertainment, and information. Deeply rooted in communities all across the country, the broadcaster’s French Language headquarters is getting a modern upgrade.
The Maison de Radio-Canada (MRC) is moving homes to a new, state-of-the-art building that will reflect the broadcaster’s stature in Canadian culture and usher in a new era of digital communication. The public broadcaster’s current Montreal headquarters was designed to accommodate outdated analogue technology, and has seen better days in its 50-year history. The new MRC will support Internet-based video and audio technology and an entirely new world of communications.
MOVE IN 2020
In late summer, Montreal-based construction company Broccolini began construction on the new MRC at the corner of René-Lévesque Blvd and Papineau Ave, and has signed on to manage the building for the next 30 years. Radio-Canada is scheduled to take possession of its new facility in early 2020.
In stark contrast to the previous tall, concrete tower, the new building will be bright, modern and designed for versatility and flexible spaces convertible from production to office use or vice versa. Whereas a lot of usable space of the previous building was underground, the new MRC has been described as 280,000-square-metres of mixed-use space focused on natural light, high, and open ceilings, with a massive 4-storey atrium that connects two towers on either side.
Says Michel Bissonnette, Executive Vice-President of Radio-Canada, “The creators, programmers, journalists and other professionals in the building will enjoy a dynamic, stimulating workplace that fosters collaboration and innovation. Our new MRC will be a creative space that acts as a catalyst for developing the country’s top productions and talent. It will be the place where creators go to bring their ideas to life.”
“Upon entering, visitors will be able to see all types of production—radio, television, digital —in the atrium and upstairs, which is going to enable them to see and really feel part of what we do as a broadcaster,” adds Emmanuelle Lamarre-Cliche, Senior director, New Maison de Radio-Canada and Specials projects. “And for employees who work at Radio-Canada, this atrium will be a great living space.”
A green roof top will work to decrease the carbon output of the building, and outdoor green space has been incorporated into the design. In fact, the outside of the building was given just as much consideration as inside. Just as technology has changed, architecture and urban design has evolved considerably since the opening of the old building.
The new MRC will contribute to the urban renewal of the surrounding neighbourhood and frame a new gateway to Montreal’s east end. Whereas design of the 1950s prioritized parking lots, the new site will feature coherent public areas, gathering places and green spaces. In line with Montreal City regulation, parking spaces have been reduced from over 1000 to 250, encouraging employees to walk, bike, or take public transportation.
As impressive as the new building complex will be, one of the team’s biggest accomplishments cannot be seen, says Lamarre-Cliche. “Maintaining a good relationship with residents of the area was a huge priority, and we are proud that their voices were heard. We created a committee to keep them informed, and provided them with a forum to discuss the project. This has been helpful to also make them part of the project as a community. We are more and more part of the neighbourhood and in proximity with the local community here in Montreal. We want this collaboration to continue with our new partners.”
“Broccolini has been, and is still, a valuable partner in this venture,” continues Lamarre-Cliche. “Aside from the quality and experience of their team, one of the things that really distinguish them from the very beginning was their capacity to listen and understand our mission as well as our objectives and needs for the new Maison. That was a key advantage of the Broccolini team and what made it so interesting to work with them.”
The MRC building is symbolic of the importance of Radio Canada and it’s history of offering Canadian content to Canadians. A beautiful, modern building designed to support the natural—and cultural—landscape for today’s digital and media environment.