Space for Life, which includes the Biodôme, Botanical Garden, Insectarium and Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, has mandated Lemay’s multidisciplinary team to provide landscape architecture services for a major restoration and redevelopment project of the Reception Gardens and its two main fountains for the Montreal Botanical Garden.
Since its foundation by Brother Marie-Victorin at the beginning of the last century, this tourist and scientific hub plays a key role in the social, educational and architectural development of the city. The Reception Gardens are an essential part of the Administration Building, designed by Lucien Kérouac (1886 – 1951). This Art Deco-style public building was built in the 1930’s, at a time of crisis in-between wars that required imagination and solidarity. More precisely, the fountains, built in 1937-1938 and designed by Henri Teuscher, include reliefs of great delicacy carved in granite by sculptor Henri Hébert. The effect of time and oxidation has greatly altered the appearance of these reliefs as well as the exterior basins. Using the best techniques and sustainable materials, a special attention was given to the mechanical and waterproofing aspect of the fountains and their finish. Finally, the octagonal basin as well as the waterfall tanks were highlighted with a brilliant lighting plan to provide a new dimension of the fountains at night.
The gardens and accesses remain unchanged, but the repaved alleys were rethink to give way to pedestrians. Vehicles are now forbidden to preserve the serenity of the Reception Gardens that act as a buffer between the city noise and the public garden. The shade plantings, located on both sides of the main aisle and the annual plantings, were redesigned to encourage visitors to wander and reclaim the space as their own.