Grand Théâtre de Québec’s restoration project has just been awarded four prestigious awards of excellence. Two have been presented by the Ordre des architects du Québec – the jury’s highest honors and the public’s choice. SAB Magazine has also recognized the project with the Green Building Award as well as the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, for its innovative prowess.
Prized for its brutalist architecture, the Grand Théâtre de Québec is a cultural icon. Lemay and Atelier 21 were tasked with restoring and protecting the building’s crumbling outer shell and its emblematic Bonet mural, inside.
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The new envelope is a delicate response to a complex problem. In developing corrective measures for the building’s many weaknesses, the transdisciplinary team produced a sustainable, innovative solution: adding a transparent, glass curtain wall to the concrete structure.
The glass casing was carefully designed in continuity with the structure developed by Victor Prus, the original architect, and the mural work of Jordi Bonet, enshrined by Prus’ protective outer shell. Discrete and almost immaterial at times, it reflects its surroundings and becomes the main interface with the city, adding an additional theatrical act in the discovery of this significant Quebecois work.
As designed, the thin wall of protective glass shields the Grand Théâtre from the elements by creating a secondary, tempered envelope housing a low-flow heat recovery and thermal mass system. The system is both energy-efficient and economical. Beyond its primary function, the new layer acts as an extension of the original building it protects, using the same finely tuned structural logic and composition.
Any alteration to the architecture had to be severely limited, says Eric Pelletier, architect and design principal at Lemay. The building’s fragility paired with the inability to directly access the concrete anchors posed a major challenge – with work on the building proceeding during normal daytime and evening theatre operations.
“Similar to a play having been written 50 years ago, we had to revitalize le Grand Theatre using a new script that would resonate with a new generation, all while respecting and embracing Prus’ original work.”
Architecture and Design Firms Involved
Lemay is a leading provider of integrated design services for the natural and built environment. The Canadian firm brings together a passionate team of architects, designers, leaders, and change-makers who bring client aspirations to life through sensitively designed environments and genuine human connection.
Naturally curious and resourceful, the transdisciplinary team defines and activates spaces through design innovation, while the firm’s unique Net PositiveTM approach ensures each project creates sustainable value for users and communities. With a rich diversity of expertise and perspectives, Lemay believes in embracing constraints and uncovering opportunities with the aim of creating space for everyone to grow.
About Atelier 21
Atelier 21 is an architecture firm with solid foundations in Quebec and Ontario. It was born of the reunion of three experienced architects: Christian Bernard, Patrice LaRochelle, and Carlo Peirolo. In search of an excellent quality conceptual design that will gracefully travel through time, Atelier 21’s professionals offer renowned expertise in building and planning large institutional and commercial buildings as well as in urban design. Atelier 21 architects have completed nearly 2,000 projects, namely for the Canadian government, provincial government, the Assemblée Nationale, the Commission de la Capitale Nationale, Quebec City, and numerous public and private societies.
Architects and designers from the firm pledge to promote harmonious and functional architecture. Respect for the environment and preservation of heritage, whether ancient or modern, are at the heart of their concerns and lead to a user-centered design. The user must benefit from a high level of functionality and comfort while enjoying a healthy environment.
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John Thompson, Writer and Commentator, EvolutDesign.com
Soldier, writer, researcher, consultant, and bon vivant, John Thompson is the author of numerous columns, op-eds, reports, briefs, short stories and books as the “Felicity Files” and “Spirit Over Steel: A Chronology of the Second World War” (version III). Often found hunched over his computer, or in his garden, and now often found doing both. His diverse talent has led him to work in industries and projects such as energy, security and home construction and renovation.