Students: Heather Richardson and Amélie Savoie-Saumure
Instructor: Howard Davies
Studio: Arch 406
Year/Term: Winter 2016
THE BIG IDEA
The fabric of any given city is an intricately woven composite of strong, eternal cords, laced with a flourish of ephemeral string. In the vertical era, we must call to attention the increasing importance of the street level: the critical moment of interaction between the architecture, the city, and its people. The Mighty Block was developed in support of an idea that while banal programming can take place at great heights, it is the levels of a building that interact with the street that have an obligation to partake in, and enrich the cultural context of the site. In this way, the vertical opportunity of the site allowed for a series of functional lofts to be built atop a public cultural center, an art museum. However, the incorporation of the lofts contributed to the building’s cultural function in its own manner by creating a contemporary space for living, working, and exhibiting.
THE FOCAL POINTS
Throughout the development of the Mighty Block, six focal points remained as pillars to the programmatic and aesthetic integrity of the building. The first, as previously mentioned, was the dual program of art museum and residential loft space. Secondly, circulation was to be treated as a grand gesture, producing a stair conducive to social interaction and complimentary to the grand interior spaces. The increased level of interactivity and visibility produced by the stair aids in the seamless integration of public and private space, which in this case becomes quite interchangeable, as lofts are often used as work spaces for career artists. Roof terraces were also a point of interest as the building was to become a public place of event, spectacle and social activity. A roof garden was also added to accommodate the residents below in a sustainable manner. Aesthetically, the use of verticality was of great importance given the surrounding height restraint of 14 stories. Although only mid-rise, the Mighty Block was intended to give the impression of a tall, rising structure of great importance in the city. Lastly, connectivity with the underground city offered many incentives, such as the integration with Place des Arts and its traffic of culturally minded museum goers. Connection to the arteries of Montreal would truly bring the building into the cultural fabric of the city, both figuratively and literally.