Insectarium, Centre culturel Desjardins among winning projects for excellence in Quebec architecture

The Ordre des architectes du Québec (OAQ) has unveiled the winners of its awards of excellence for 2023. Eleven Quebec projects were recognized, with two Grand Prix d’excellence awards this year: one for the Insectarium de Montréal Metamorphosis, and the other for renovations to the Centre culturel Desjardins in Joliette.

The winners were honoured at a ceremony held recently at the Salon Richmond in Montreal. The event also honoured two individuals and two firms that have made exemplary commitments to inclusivity and quality in Quebec architecture.

The redesign of the Insectarium, part of the Space for Life complex and carried out in consortium by Kuehn Malvezzi / Pelletier De Fontenay / Jodoin Lamarre Pratte architectes, lends true meaning to the notion of biophilic design. The jury was impressed by the immersive exhibition route, part of which invites visitors to discover insects through the perspective of their environment.

The jury also praised the architects for resolving the technical challenges involved in transforming the museum experience and noted the strong synergy between the landscape and the building’s architecture, which ensures its integration with the botanical garden.

The jury awarded its second Grand Prix d’excellence to the Centre culturel Desjardins renovation, designed by Atelier TAG. The outcome of careful study of the original plans, photos, and still-visible features of the former Académie Saint-Viateur de Joliette, this heritage building redevelopment was orchestrated with equal parts invention, respect, and finesse. Among other things, the jury hailed the high-quality restoration of the Beaux-Arts–style auditorium, which preserves the esthetic and acoustic qualities of the original mouldings.

The Prix du public (the people’s choice award), determined after a public voting period, went to the new sports and culture centre at Collège Notre-Dame, designed by ACDF Architecture.

Individual distinctions

Four individual distinctions were also handed out, recognizing people and firms for their commitments to inclusivity and quality in Quebec architecture. The Médaille du Mérite, the OAQ’s highest distinction, was awarded posthumously to architect Claude Provencher, who was regarded as a pioneer of the new urban architecture of the late 1970s. Attentive to the economic and social context, Provencher helped create living environments respectful of citizens and the surrounding built fabric through architecture that was inclusive, meaningful, and durable, and in which the human experience remained paramount.

The engagement social prize was presented to Lafond Côté Architectes, a group of architects renowned for their many community-centric projects. As the first architecture office in the Quebec City region to design co-housing developments, it has contributed to the mission of Action Habitation for the past 20 years, which provides decent, affordable housing to vulnerable populations.

NÓS, whose professional engagement is informed by a desire to convey a renewed vision of the profession as a leader in defining the experience of the city, received the Relève en architecture prize (for emerging architects).

The Ambassadeur de la qualité en architecture prize (awarded to a non-architect who champions architectural quality) went to Marie-Josée Lacroix, the City of Montreal’s first design commissioner, for her role in raising the profile of the city, along with awareness of the importance of architecture and Montrealers’ daily living environments.

The jury for the 2023 Prix d’excellence was chaired by architect and urban planner Renée Daoust, senior partner, Daoust Lestage Lizotte + Stecker Architecture. Laure Waridel, eco-sociologist, associate professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Institute of Environmental Sciences, and columnist for the Journal de Montréal, was invited as the public representative. The remaining jury members were architects Isabelle Beauchamp (Blouin Tardif Architectes); Rami Bebawi (KANVA Architecture); and Vladimir Topouzanov (Saia Barbarese Topouzanov architectes).

To encourage nomination of smaller projects and those that are more difficult to categorize, and to allow for a greater number of projects to be eligible, this year, the OAQ decided to do away with the traditional prize categories. Applications were thus evaluated as a whole, using criteria that, among other things, reflected the Ordre’s vision of socio-ecological transition.

Winners of the 2023 Prix d’excellence en architecture

Insectarium Metamorphosis
Design: Kuehn Malvezzi / Pelletier De Fontenay / Jodoin Lamarre Pratte architectes in consortium
Client: Space for Life
Location: Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Montreal

Centre culturel Desjardins renovation
Design: Atelier TAG
Location: Joliette, Lanaudière

New sports and cultural centre, College Notre-Dame de Montreal
Design: ACDF Architecture
Client: Collège Notre-Dame
Location: Montreal

Collège Durocher Saint-Lambert
Design: Atelier Pierre Thibault
Client: Collège Durocher Saint-Lambert
Location: Saint-Lambert, Montérégie

Complexe des sciences—Université de Montréal – Campus MIL
Design: Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux | Lemay | NFOE Architectes
Client: Université de Montréal
Location: Outremont, Montreal

Esplanade Tranquille—Quartier des spectacles
Design: Les architectes FABG
Client: City of Montreal
Location: Montreal

Institut Quantique—Université de Sherbrooke
Design: Saucier + Perrotte architects
Client: Université de Sherbrooke
Location: Sherbrooke, Estrie

Carlier House
Design: yh2 – Yiacouvakis Hamelin Architectes
Clients: Lisa Wolofsky and Joey Mastrogiuseppe
Location: Montreal

Jeanne-Mance House
Design: La Shed Architecture
Clients: Valérie Zaphiratos and Félix Robitaille
Location: Montreal

MB House
Design: Studio Jean Verville architectes
Clients: Benjamin Boller and Mathieu Denécheau
Location: Montreal

Awarded since 1978 by the Ordre des architectes du Québec, the Prix d’excellence en architecture serves to recognize and highlight achievements by its members. The prizes, formerly awarded once every two years, have been presented annually since 2019. The Ordre des architectes du Québec is a professional order; and as such, its mission is to ensure the protection of the public. To that end, it controls admission to the title of architect and the right to practice the profession in Quebec.

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