Observation DecksTower, Culture

Au Sommet
Place Ville Marie

Location
Montreal, Canada
Client
GSM Project, Ivanhoé Cambridge, Claridge, Cirque du Soleil and Sid Lee
Surface area
21,850 sq ft
Completion date
2016
Overview

Built in 1962, Place Ville Marie is a large office complex and plaza in the heart of Montreal’s business district. The observation deck experience created by GSM Project includes an interactive gallery, terraces, a restaurant-bar operated by a renowned local restaurateur, a boutique offering locally made goods, and a café.

GSM Project had the mandate to design and build an experience that would highlight Place Ville Marie’s heritage value, allow locals to rediscover their city, and offer tourists a unique and exciting opportunity to get a true taste of life in Montreal.

Our challenge:
To create a world-class
visitor experience befitting Montreal’s most cherished skyscraper.

Already an icon

Designed by I.M. Pei and Henry N. Cobb—and now synonymous with the urban boom that transformed Montreal in the 1960s—Place Ville Marie drew the attention of the world when it was built. The distinctive 188-metre cruciform tower was once the third tallest skyscraper in the world and remains today the nexus for Montreal’s Underground City—more than 12 square kilometres of underground networks connecting shopping malls, subway stations, apartment buildings, sports venues, and more. Roughly 70,000 people pass through the complex every day.

Credit: Olivier Blouin

Credit: Olivier Blouin

Credit: Olivier Blouin

A team effort

When the top floors of Montreal’s most famous tower were suddenly on the market, the opportunity was too good to pass up. GSM Project put together a consortium of some of Montreal’s finest companies—including Sid Lee, Cirque du Soleil, restauranteurs Les Enfants Terribles, and building owners Ivanhoé Cambridge—and spearheaded the transformation of the top three floors into a world-class observation deck experience, including a restaurant, a gallery, event spaces, and open-air terraces.

" Our goal is to create an observatory that will become an iconic destination, allowing visitors to discover or rediscover the real Montreal, a unique Montreal, our Montreal."

Alexandre Taillefer

Managing Partner, XPND Capital

A classic observation deck

Visitors to the 46th floor of Place Ville Marie get a stunning 360-degree view of the city. Two floors below, Montreal’s highest restaurant boasts a menu inspired by the city itself and made from local ingredients. Four hundred square metres of open-air terraces extend from the restaurant, allowing one of the best dining experiences in town. The entire project is LEED EB+OM Silver certified.

Credit: Olivier Blouin

A portrait of the city

On the 45th floor, 55 original media productions offer an impressionistic portrait of the city and its people. The content is always associated with the view, so that visitors facing south, for example, can watch videos explaining how the St. Lawrence River shaped Montreal’s development. They can also learn about the vital role the river plays today as a shipping corridor, as a source of drinking water, and as a popular destination for boating, fishing, kayaking, and even surfing.

Credit: Olivier Blouin

Credit: Melanie Guilbault

Credit: Olivier Blouin

Credit: Olivier Blouin

Take it to the streets

A key feature of Au Sommet Place Ville Marie is the use of RFID technology to personalize the visitor experience. At the reception, visitors are given RFID-enabled wristbands, which they then use to select content during their visit. When they leave, they receive a personalized set of missions with a checklist of things to do in the city at large, based on their interests.

Credit: Olivier Blouin

Credit: Olivier Blouin

Credit: Olivier Blouin

Credit: Olivier Blouin

Credit: Olivier Blouin

Always up to date

Other important design imperatives included flexibility and updateability. Our approach was to create each space using a modular design that can be easily adapted for different events and exhibitions. To ensure the interactive content stays relevant and evolves with the seasons, a content and social media curator was hired to update information regularly about what’s happening in Montreal.

Summary

GSM Project is a key stakeholder and investor in the development of Au Sommet Place Ville Marie. Overseeing legalities, financing, administration and operations, we have played a leading role in the management of the project from beginning to end. Our implication has spanned the complete spectrum of our services, including developing the concept and architectural design, creating all written, graphic, and audiovisual content, and handling the design, production, and installation of all exhibition and architectural components.