Provencher_Roy’s downtown hub for HEC Montréal nears completion

Construction is wrapping up on Provencher_Roy’s new downtown hub for HEC Montréal, a centre for research located at the intersection of the Quartier des Affaires, Quartier des Spectacles, and the Quartier International.

Photo credit: Provencher_Roy

The project marks a move back to the downtown area where HEC Montréal began in 1907. The facility will house spaces for professional development courses, collaborative research into emerging areas like AI, and conferences. 

The 24,000-square-meter facility is organized around two circulation axes that traverse the site and converge on a central skylit atrium that rises five floors.Pedestrian connections through the building navigate an elevation change of 10 meters across the site, linking the urban fabric to the green spaces of the site from east to west, and from north to south. Open and accessible from all sides, the building functions more like a neighbourhood in itself than a standalone structure. 

“Through the bridges it intends to build with the community, this new hub of exchange and innovation will prove to be an important asset for our largest city,” said Chantal Rouleau, Minister for Transport and Minister Responsible for the Metropolis and the Montréal Region. 

“We started in the downtown core, and we are thrilled to return to our roots,” says Federico Pasin, Director of HEC Montréal. “We wanted to be closer to our business community,” says Pasin. “Our clientele includes young students, fresh out of CEGEP, as well as professionals who work during the day and study for their certificate, DESS, or MBA at night. Establishing ourselves downtown allows us to better serve the latter.” 

The designs cheme follows three core principles: dynamism, lightness, and respect for the site, while paying homage to both the landmarked Saint Patrick’s Basilica next door and the history of the grounds themselves.

Photo credit: Provencher_Roy

Now an undeveloped lot in the shadow of the basilica, the site was once home to St. Bridget’s Refuge, a shelter for Irish women during the 1860s. The new building preserves much of the greenspace, transforming it into a landscaped park that extends the forecourt of the basilica. The scheme also brings the history of the ruined St. Bridget’s Refuge to the fore, retracing its foundation, partially rebuilding the remnants of its exterior walls, and dedicating several commemorative plaques.

The building’s jewel-like facets and shifting materialities respond to the different contexts surrounding the site. At the north-east wing, the facades incline away from the basilica; this portion of the building is also shorter than the rest, deferring to the height of the basilica. 

On the west side of the site, the design creates a dramatic entrance that announces the building on the Rue De La Gauchetière. V-shaped walls carve out an entry court recessed from the lot line. Stacked masses extend over the entrance and protrude toward the street

Provencher_Roy developed the final design in collaboration with community members and stakeholders to ensure it paid due respect to the site’s heritage and contributed to the surrounding urban fabric. 

“The architects favoured a co-construction process. They organized workshops with the neighbourhood, businesspeople, and students,” says Federico Pasin, Director of HEC Montréal. “Together, they imagined what the ideal campus would look like. We wanted a living space, something spectacular. And we are extremely proud of the result.”

Targeting LEED Gold, the centre will host 27 classrooms, a 300-seat auditorium, and a centre for events and lectures. Public amenities—including a library, lounge, cafe, interior garden, and courtyard—integrate the building with the city and offer new community spaces. 

Above are the floors with the classrooms, a program stack that concentrates activity at the base to animate the site. The upper levels house meeting rooms, classrooms, and administrative offices of the Executive Education department. The northwest wing of the building houses a research centre where business leaders and top academics can collaborate on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.  


Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada
Client: HEC Montréal
Year: 2022
Surface area: 24,000 m2
Architecture: Provencher_Roy
Structural and civil engineering: SDK / MHA consortium
Mechanical and electrical engineering: Pageau Morel / Bouthillette Parizeau consortium
Project manager: WSP Canada Inc.

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