19th Century Architecture, 21st Century Technology
The conversation to restore the Voltigeurs de Québec Armoury began the moment the 2008 fire was put out. A national historic site built in the 1880s, there was no questioning the significance of the building—home to the oldest French-Canadian regiment still in existence—in Québec. Ten years after the fire devastated parts of the Armoury, Public Services and Procurement Canada $104 million restoration project is complete, and the Armoury is preserved for future generations.
Although at first glance the exterior appearance of the Armoury looks as it did prior to the fire, there have been significant updates, says Luc Morin, Project Chief. “The guiding principle of the project was to preserve and protect the integrity of the building while introducing modern improvements and advantages,” says Morin. “Fortunately, we still have the original architectural drawings from 1885 by Eugène-Étienne Taché, the architect of the original building, so the building retains much of its architectural integrity.”
The complex restoration has transformed the way the building will be used by combining heritage and modernism. While the commemoration of its military history is paramount, the building is now able to accommodate federal government offices, a commemorative hall to celebrate the armoury’s history, and a public space for Canadians who wish to use the space for community, cultural and social events.
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, summarized the project by saying, “Out of this devastating incident has risen a perfect marriage of past and present, of architectural beauty and multipurpose function. This renewed building at the heart of our city will serve the Voltigeurs de Québec and our fellow citizens long and well.”
The exterior appearance before the fire was largely preserved,
particularly the roof and front façade. With a view to maintaining the building’s heritage designations while optimizing the facilities and making them more useful to the community and the government, the Armoury was expanded with the construction of a new contemporary annex adjacent to the existing building, to house federal offices and a reception foyer overlooking the Plains of Abraham.
The entire space of the central Armoury building has been repurposed: from a drill hall to a large multipurpose room that can accommodate roughly 1,300 guests at one time. George V, banquet and catering service, manages the multipurpose spaces at the Armoury, namely the multipurpose hall and the reception foyer.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was on hand for the opening ceremony to welcome the Voltigeurs de Québec regiment to their new Armoury, saying, “The Armoury transformation showcases how historical sites can be brought into the 21st century and meet modern environmental standards, while maintaining their architectural integrity. I know this Armoury will remain an important landmark in Québec, and continue to serve the regiment and the community.”